Scammers love to impersonate government officials. We’ve warned about con artists claiming to be from the IRS, Medicare, and even the Social Security Administration. Now, add another government agency to that list: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
How the Scam Works:
You get a letter that appears to be from the FTC. It looks real, and it’s even on official-looking letterhead. The letter says that your “online and financial activities” have put you under suspicion of money laundering and terrorism. According to the note, the FTC will now be monitoring everything you do.
The letter itself doesn’t ask for anything, but experts at the real FTC believe it to be the first part of a bigger con. The second part will likely involve “urgent” phone calls demanding that you send money. In fact, BBB Scam Tracker has recently received reports of such calls. In them, scammers claim to be working with the FTC on a “federal investigation.” You’ve been linked to the crime, and, order to escape criminal charges, you need to send money in the form of prepaid gift cards.
One victim reported that scammers threatened her when she pushed back on the demands. They told her: "Are you questioning the federal government, ma'am? Remember you are being recorded and anything you say can be used against you." No matter what scammers demand, just hang up. The real FTC does not send intimidating letters or make threatening phone calls.
Tips to Spot this Scam:
- The FTC will never make threatening phone calls or send letters like the one above
- The FTC does reply to letters they receive. Also, they sometimes send letters about a refund from a case. But they will never ask you to pay anything or give personal info to collect your funds. (Find more about FTC refunds at gov/redress.)
- No government agency will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or cryptocurrency.
- Don't believe what you see. Scammers are great at mimicking phone numbers, official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because it looks legitimate, does not mean it is.
For More Information:
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, help others avoid the same by reporting your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker.