The New York Police Department (NYPD) has issued a public warning alerting them of telephone scams whereby people are impersonating public figures from the government, and demanding payment in Bitcoin and other currencies.
In general, the scammers pretend to be officials from the Social Security Administration or other law enforcement agencies. They then present their victims with threats to pay up or face legal consequences. Payments are usually asked for in the form of Bitcoin, bank wire transfers and prepaid gift cards.
The scammers have had a successful year so far, cheating more than 200 victims a total of USD 2 million. According to NYPD, last year they only received three complaints with the direct mention of Bitcoin, so it appears that the scammers are becoming more bold and more active.
According to police, victims are more easily tricked because the scammers use a technique called “spoofing“, where they can manipulate caller IDs to display Social Security Administration and other official agencies’ phone numbers. In some cases, even actual officer names can appear.
Nilda Hoffmann, chief of community affairs at NYPD declared:
“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.”
State officials are not allowed to request for private information or money over the phone.
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