The NYPD has issued an alert to warn people against phone scams in which callers are pretending to be the Social Security Administration or law enforcement agencies. There have been more than 200 complaints made regarding the scam, and people have reported losses of more than $2 million. In comparison, only three similar complaints were made all of last year.
Scammers tell victims their Social Security number has been used for illegal activities, such as drug trafficking or money laundering, or to open accounts. In order to deal with the situation, victims are asked for money “to help resolve the situation.” Scammers use prepaid gift cards, Bitcoin and bank wire transfers as their preferred payment method.
By using spoofing, the victim’s phone will display caller IDs of the organisation the scammer claims to represent. Sometimes, they even use the names of real police officers.
"Sophisticated phone scams use the trust victims have in their own governmental and law enforcement agencies against them. Victims of this type of phone scam are not limited to senior citizens—these criminals are targeting every strata of society and every demographic is vulnerable," said Chief of Community Affairs Nilda Hofmann. "The NYPD is committed to working closely with our partners in the financial industries and will not rest until we bring those responsible for these crimes accountable. If you even suspect a call to be fraudulent, don't take a chance, just hang up."
NYPD reminds citizens they will never be asked to provide any money or information over the phone.