Fraudsters frequently pretend to be from official or official-sounding organizations and companies to perpetuate their scams, but one group has kicked the chutzpah level up to a whole new level.
They’re running a sweepstakes scam by pretending to be real people from the FTC, one the very organizations charged with stopping them.
In one case, a 67-year-old building inspector from Washington state named Ralph (he requested that his last name not be used) sent $1,300 to a criminal who identified himself as FTC Secretary Donald Clark from the “fraud division.” The imposter said the agency was overseeing a sweepstakes, and the money was needed to pay for insurance on delivery of a $500,000 prize that Ralph had won.
To add to the air of legitimacy, the imposter left a call-back number in Washington D.C.’s 202 area code.
In similar cases, caller ID indicated the call had originated from the Federal Trade Commission, Broder said. The criminals used Internet-based telephone services to perform the caller ID trick, she said.
When Ralph called the number supplied to him, an answering machine message announced that the caller has reached the FTC.
Ballsy. Also, a really good way by the scammers to help the agency decide out of all the cases that come across its desk, which one to make a top priority.
Wicked new wrinkle: Scammers impersonate FTC officials [Red Tape Chronicles] (Photos: afagen, Tim Kiser)