Phone scams are on the rise according to officials at the New York Police Department. Thieves have stolen over $2 million posing as false social security officials. Requesting payments are made in BTC, prepaid gift cards and bank wire transfers, they have forced the police to issue warnings to unsuspecting targets.
Using trust warranted by government agencies has made scamming easy according to NYPD. At least 200 complaints have been made this year alone, accounting for more than $2 million in theft. Last year, there were only three such complaints by comparison.
“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,” stated 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,” she then said.
Using the trust of the Social Security Administration has proven to be the most effective way for scammers to steal money so far. Thieves apparently report a victim’s identity has been involved in illicit activities like money laundering or drug trafficking. They are then required to transfer money to alleviate any charges.
Criminals typically use intimidation tactics, posing as law enforcement officials to force fearful victims to take specific actions that end up being costly.
Scam artists can easily alter caller IDs to appear as various government agencies like the IRS or Social Security Administration, even going so far to use actual names of real officers. The problem is occurring all over the United States, not just in New York.
California is another state commonly targeted in which thieves tell victims they must transfer all their money to an anonymous bitcoin account. So far, the only effective measure take by the police has been to inform the public of these scams to stop them from answering calls or paying any money.
That is until now, police are now working with local owners of businesses with access to Bitcoin ATMs to crack down on crypto scams. Police make a point to state individuals will never be contacted via telephone from NYPD or the Social Security Administration. The same can be said for authorities in San Francisco.