Fraud alert: Scammers claim to be with Department of Justice

ALBANY — The U.S. Attorney’s Office has received reports that individuals claiming to represent the Department of Justice are calling members of the public as part of an imposter scam.

The office strongly encourages the public to remain vigilant and not to provide personal information during these calls, which appear to target the elderly. The office also encourages family members to alert their elderly relatives about this scam — one of many that preys upon people these days.

The scammers falsely represent themselves as Department of Justice investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information from the call recipient, or they leave a voicemail with a return phone number. The return phone number directs users to a recorded menu that matches the recorded menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.

“These scammers are preying on the elderly by exploiting their trust in the Department of Justice and the United States Government. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is dedicated to fighting elder fraud. We will investigate and prosecute phone scams and other schemes targeting the elderly to the fullest extent of our capabilities,” Antoinette Bacon, acting U.S. Attorney for Northern New York, said in a press release.

“Phone scams are pervasive and increasingly sophisticated,” Elder Justice Coordinator Shira Hoffman added. “The best way to protect yourself is not to share personal or financial information in response to unsolicited phone calls.”

Those who receive these calls are encouraged to report them to the Federal Trade Commission via their website or by calling 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud.

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime also runs a National Elder Fraud Hotline, for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older. Reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible, and within the first two to three days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open seven days a week. For more information about the hotline, visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov.


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