Government imposters’ tricks revealed in full color

As part of our ongoing effort to raise awareness about scams targeting the Latino community, we’ve developed a new publication about government imposter scams. Impostores del Gobierno is our first Spanish-language “fotonovela” and we hope we can count on you to help us distribute it.     

Impostores del Gobierno tells the story of a young woman who responds to a call from a man who claims to be from the government -- and who convinces her to send him money. The plot is based on real complaints to the FTC from Spanish speakers throughout the nation, and offers practical tips on how to tell when a phone call, text or email is from a government imposter:

  • If you get a call from someone who says they work for the government and you won money in a “grant”, lottery or contest, it’s a scam. The government doesn’t call you on the phone or send you an email or text to give you money.  
  • If anyone tells you to wire money or use a pre-paid card to claim your “prize,” it’s a scam. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize – it’s a purchase.

The booklet is in full color and fits in a purse, backpack or messenger bag.  It is now available in print and online. Order as many copies as you can use — for free — at ftc.gov/fotonovela. If you’d like to distribute the booklet at your 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month events, please place your order before August 15.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

God Loves us all

I am interested in learning more about various scams to look out for. I am not sure why I am taken to the business section at Wells Fargo, my bank, when I go into the lobby. I do not even have a job, to my knowledge, much less a business. How can I find out if I do have a business, or if one has been opened in my name without my knowledge? I am at a loss as to where to turn from here for information. Any information would be appreciated.

If you want to stay informed about scams to watch out for, you can subscribe to receive the FTC’s Scam Alerts and other news at ftc.gov/stay-connected.  You can also check out our page on Scam Alerts.

Happened to me today 1 day after a IRS scam , the scammers love my phone numbers but this 1 slipped up. They said my credit was in good standings & I am not latye on my payments. Well we are not payin our cell phone at this time & I only got there cell phone call because we had WiFi in my house. They asked for $300 from a Walmart money gram & my ID scam!!!! Call them back cannot do not have a cell phone, if it is a true Grant its 100% free!!!!

About a year ago, I received a phone call telling me I won a lot of money. I had to go to a local chain store and purchase a specific debit or credit type card and had to pay a good amount for it. Then,I was to call them back and they would come to my house with the money.(prize). The man said he worked for, I think the FBI. When I hung up, he was under the expression, I went to buy the card. In stead, I called the FBI, the woman told me what I was dealing with. For days, this man continued to call me, asking why I had not followed his instructions. These were messages left on my phone, because I wanted no more to do with him, I would not answer the phone. Eventually, he gave up. Now, I do not trust anyone I do not know, that calls on the phone. Thank you.

I will gladly help distribute this information at my business location because I try my best in helping people about scams most are very easy to figure out there scams but the have gotten much smarter on this scams lately it's hard to tell anymore and even harder when they parent up with big cooporations or represent them in some way some how we have to be very carfull now a days is kind of scary working on my credit has being almost a full time job figuring out all this mess no easy way to fix it and try to pay and settle in some cases that makes it worst because then it's like you admitted it was you.

Thanks for helping us distribute this publication. You can order free copies at ftc.gov/fotonovela.

A month ago I received a phone call that I had one 3.5 million dollars and sports from Publisher Clearing House. I thought it was great since I have big medical debt. The man got mad and his accent changed when I refused to give him my credit cards even tho maxed out he said he would pay them and then I was to go to Walmart buy a money gram for $900. It turned out phone calls from Kingston Jamaica were billed to my Cox account(about $90's worth). I hope Cox does not make me pay. When I called Cox they said the charges would be removed. I am an elderly person. I contacted the Better Business Bureau in my city. They said they could do nothing not even post it for others. I feel like the biggest idiot. I'm glad that the Fed Gov. has this websight and is looking out for us.

OMG! It happen to me today. I got a call saying I was just awarded a grant for $7,800. All I had to do was go to Walmart and get a Green Dot Money Take Voucher for $4.95 they will deposit $500 on it, because there was a limit they could deposit they couldn't put it all on it unless,
I added $200 on to the Voucher they could deposit the hold thing. According to the government they will never call you about winning a voucher and two in order to receive a grant you must first apply for one. If it sounds to good to be true it probably isn't.

Thanks for sharing your experience and for filing a complaint with the FTC. It's important to submit a complaint because investigators from all over the country access the FTC's complaint database. Watch this video to learn more about how to file a complaint with the FTC and why it matters.

My email is bombarded with notifications for me to claim millions of dollars in lottery winnings (that I did not play), inheritances (from non-relatives), loan offers, executive positions that require I give my bank account info so $$ can be deposited in my account. All scams. It bothers me that our seniors are targeted by these crooks over and over, and, too often, fall for it. No matter how much we inform, too many still don't get it. It's as though they think it doesn't apply to 'this one.'

The best thing I ever did was to get caller ID. I do not answer any calls that I don't recognize. I feel that if it is important, they can leave a message. This, however, does not stop the late night or early morning calls. The DO NOT CALL list does not work as there are no consequences. Most of the scammers are from foreign call centers and they do not fear our laws.

Dear Friends and Family - I want to warn you about a scam that I almost fell for. I got a recorded call from the "IRS" that stated that failure to call would mean prosecution. When I called the number back (202) 506-8701, the "IRS officer" who answered (David Parker, who had a thick Nigerian accent), read the subpoena to me. He quoted articles and said that I had been reviewed and that I owed the IRS $4575.56. I told him I didn't have that kind of money and asked if I could pay in installments. He said I needed to send "good faith" money. The first amount was $2,500, but they came down to $750. I had to stay on the phone with them while I went to the bank to get money. I took out $300 and tried another ATM machine, but my credit union only lets me take $300 daily. He asked me to try another ATM machine, so like an idiot, there I go. Still couldn't get more money and they agreed to the $300. I was to go to CVS pharmacy and get a prepaid Visa card and then I was transferred to the "accounting office" of the "IRS" to get more instructions on how to do this transaction. Meanwhile, while I was talking to the first guy, I checked the phone number on line, which didn't point to the IRS. I told him this, and he said,"I'll call you from the IRS 800 number," so he hung up and called back. My phone showed the 800 number and when I checked on line, the IRS did come up. So I asked him if that number was a 24 hours service number and he said yes. When they transferred me to the "accounting office" I asked the new person (Kevin Brown - who by the way had a thick middle eastern accent) to give me his number in case we got disconnected. His number is (202) 506-8567. So I hung up and called the IRS 800 number. I got a recording that the office was currently closed and the recording gave the their office hours. Meanwhile they tried calling me back one call after the other, but I didn't answer and they finally stopped calling. On my way home I thought, if this was real, I would have received snail mail correspondence from the IRS, not this last minute call saying that if I didn't pay today, they would send my case to court. The first guy was very convincing. So much so, that I went to the bank to get money!! So lease be careful!! If my father had been the one to answer, he would have sent them the money because he doesn't speak English very well, and because of their tactics...he would not have checked numbers on the internet like I did. Please send this to all your contacts to warn them of this scam. Thank you!!

well i just receive the same call this morning from a Washington DC number 202-506-9750 with a representative name "Michael Johnson". Claiming they are IRS and said that I owe the $4000++ money and if I don't pay right at that moment they with be sending cops to bring me to court. I asked him if he's really sure if I'm the right person that they should be talking to and if they can recite my social security number but they keep avoiding the question and keeps on threatening me. and then he hung up. Hope this experience of ours will serve as an example for people to be aware of scammers.

Same thing just happened to me....word for word.

I just got the same call they said that if I did not pay $2,500 that they would come to take me to jail in 2 hours.

I too,have been receiving this same call and will not call back or answer my phone. Thank you for confirming my suspicion that this was not a call from the IRS. The IRS should be alerted that people using American names with heavy accents are using their agency as part of their scams.

This just happen to my field ops manager and he was scared and would have sent them the money through wire transfer from a prepaid debit card, but I got on the phone with the alleged IRS officer and he hung up on me. I guess they are very convincing to the ill informed.

I have been getting calls from a foreign man saying he is from the government grant division and I have grant money in my name. He wanted a prepaid debit card number or my bank credit card number. After I told him no he asked why. I told him I didn't believe he was from the government. He was very persistent. I told him if I had money in my name that he should send me a check. He knew my address which is very unnerving.

If you receive a check with your name on it and the sender asks you to deposit it and send money to them, this could be a fake check scam.

I just had this same thing happen today and they turned out to have a callback number that was a personal cell.People should be aware of these scammers and give no personal information.

The same thing has been happening to me for the past two days. It is annoying and an insult to our intelligence.

I got a call from Liz and she said I have a grant for 7000 but they won't me to go get a green dot money card and load 200 the number is 347-535-4487

Today i got a call from washington dc, number starting 202-407-9095 watch out for this number they will say you won the government prize money and you don't have to return the money first i spoke to a guy and later he gave me this girl's number she told me to go to walmart or walgreens buy a green dot scratch card which is re-loadable and load it with $200 and we will return you with the balance, i already knew this was a scam so i told the girl to deduct the $200 from my winning money and send me a check of the balance amount , and you know what she hung up on me.

these people are scam artists

I just received a call from a foreign man saying i was selected to receive $7,000 in grant money from the united states federal grant program. I asked how i was selected and he was vague. The caller id came up as 78. I knew it was a scam but i wanted to see how much he info he would divulge. Not much. I was given a,number to call and the number ww415 as the verification number. The phone he gave me to call is (206)855-3305. It is the "finance" department. While listening to all the office noise in the background i could tell it was fake and looping.(im a musician) He asked for my bank acct card number 3 times and i ignored his requests and just kept asking questions while i reverse looked up the number he gave me. It is located in the state of washington on an island. He said they were located in DC. So i told him before i call i would like to check out how legitimate the grant is. He tried to persuade me not to by confirming it was valid. I know an application must be filled out before any grant is awarded. Beware of this scam. I gave all the info i could get from the caller here. Not much else i can do. Now i am reporting it to the ftc and local law enforcement. Good day everyone.

Yes, thanks for filing a consumer complaint with the FTC. We appreciate your blog comment because it helps warn other people about this scam, but it’s not a formal complaint. Watch this video to learn more about how to report a scam and why it matters.

I was a vic of this scam I lost out on 299.00 and wont beable to get it back. I use some of my rent money because I believed this lady on the phone about the 7000,00 grant from the government .so I am being kicked out of the house I rent. after 5 years living here. I have 2 kids and no where to go now.i am so beside myself. thanks

I received the same call yesterday, and called back the "treasury department" number and held them on the line for a long time, trying to get as much information as I could. I also filed a complaint with the FTC and called the FBI field office in my area. (The FBI simply confirmed that the FTC is the right place to report these incidents.)

I have been getting calls from Heather Gray. IRS rep. The call is from Washington, No. is 1-202-506-9726. When you call back it is a man with a very thick foreign accent. He lets you know you are going to jail and the police will be at your house in a few days. I called my accountant and I am just fine with the IRS. I filled a report with the police. They keep calling me. A few days ago I got a call from a internet scam. Once your number is out there are you a target forever?

irecieved a called today from a number again a man with a thick indian accent then he told me another number it was the samr person but a diffrent number told me to wait 15 min befor i call ask me fen i told him there is no precess fee for grant he got pissed off and told me not to call that number again i told him he was scammer the number to be aware of is12026977222 and the other is 2027384242

Today, received two calls from 202-241-1017. Each time they left a voice mail. I completed a consumer complaint already but wanted to give people a heads up. The first caller was female spoke very very poor English asked for someone I know. She said her name was "Kelly Jones". She Must speak in person or with "attorney of record" regarding money owed to IRS.You could hear her struggling with the script she was given to read.
The second caller was a male. He asked for someone we don't know but the person he was for had a Hispanic name. Same threat must call or attorney of record must call IRS owe money. IRS never calls they send letters in mail. They don't answer the phone 24/7. Their phone are high quality and you don't hear them breathing hard or crackling on the phone line.

Yes today I received a call saying I won a 7000 grant and I need too send 200.00 dollar money pak and the Number is 206-855-3305 why do thus to people I almost failed for it but I thought why would the government give me money

I was recently contacted by someone claiming to be from the "Attorney Generals Office" in California. They said that I was being arrested for 3 serious federal crimes from "theft" to "violation of federal banking" "check fraud" the man said that if and/or when I got out of prison I'd never be able to get a job in the United States and that it was all over me submitting information to a payday loan company (which then turned around and sent my info to every payday loan company out there) he had all my info from my name home address social security number and banking information. The phone numbers are 1 916 469 9344 (which is disconnected) and the one they will actually answer as "Attorney generals office" is 1-916-469-7023...

I also received a threat from a IRS agent with a American name and a very bad foreign accent and could hardly understand him he almost got me to send him money but when i told him i was going to take money to IRS and called police he started yelling and hung up his fake name is James Morgan and the other fake name is Eric Foster I also filed a complaint but found this site and wanted to add these fake names so people could see them if you get a call from these fake names laugh and hangup thanks

I just got a call from eric foster

I got a call from a Paul at phone number 0000121233 and he claimed a grant from US Dept Health and Human services in amount of $7400. When asked he said the phone number was 202-654-9876 (what a joke). As i kept pushing for more information, he got angry and combative before hanging up

I have gotten calls and voicemail from "the IRS" but it was a 415 area code (San Fran) rather than 202 (DC). This was so clearly a scam. Tried calling back to mess with them but they never answered the phone.

I have been receiving phone calls from foreign sounding people telling me that I have been selected to receive a grant for $9,000 it just sounded to go to be true. and when i wouldn't give him my information to transfer the money and hung up he keeps calling and harassing me. I called the number back and it said it was invalided. Beware. Its not just one person calling the other day it was a women. I knew when he had my address wrong that it was a scam. the phone number they called me from was 360-533-7349. He says his name is Kevin.

I just got a call from a guy with an Indian accent telling me I'd been awarded a grant for $7,00 from the US Gov't because I pay my bills and taxes on time. The number I was given to call was 206) 855-3282. I got the same call several years ago. Throw out enough lines and you'll catch a fish!

I received the same call from a Washington DC number 202-506-9713 today. It was a recording, woman's voice claiming to be from the IRS that I had to call them or else They would file legal action. Knew it was a scam!!!

202-506-9713 keeps calling and there is a recording in a mans voice telling me the same thing, however when I call them back I got someone (once) and he asked for me by name but I told him I wasn't me lol

so what happens when you return the call and get charged for the long distant call better still the united states treasury will send a letter first see that's what happens when you let the out siders in this is the thanks we get and they can not speak English so they use robots to talk on some days.

Same call here...United States grant...etc. red flag went up..told him to send it yo me in writing, then I can research it....pretty sure I won't be getting a letter about that 9000.

Re: IRS telephone scam
For last two days have received calls from person identifying himself as Michael Brown, stating I need to call him back at IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, if not I would be arrested. Number he called from is 202-241-2071. Each time voicemail left because I refused to answer calls.
Several months ago this same person called me with identical threat & sent me 2 emails from a William White.
He refused to give details even when I requested written notification which was never sent.
Even blocking numbers don't help, they just call from a different number after a brief wait.

i got a voice call from 202-506-8701. The person told he is calling from IRS and I owe some money to IRS. If failed to contact this number , then will be heavy penalty. I was suspicious about the phone number and browsed internet . After going thru all above I came to conclusion it was spam. Thanks every one for posting your experiences and it helped me a lot.

Got 2 calls today. Both said I had a 9000.00 grant from the government. Took this number down 202-657-6443 if anyone gets this number it is a scam. I told the persons (first one was a girl and the second was a man) with a very heavy accent that I wasn't that dumb and this was a scam they hung up.

We got another call from (202) 506-9750 saying they are from the IRS and are threatening legal action. If they are bogus and a scam, why can't the government shut them down?

This was a voice mail I got yesterday on Labor Day Holiday.

"Hi Officer Julie Smith from the Internal Revenue Service and the hotline to my division is 202-506-9750. I repeat it's 202-506-9750. Don't disregard this message and do return the call before we take any legal allegation against you. Goodbye and take care."

It sounds like a real threat, but who would have worked on a national holiday? Additionally, IRS will send you a letter, not a phone call.

This is a scam!

Got a Call from 202-506-9750 saying they are the IRS and I must call them to settle a debt or legal action will be taken. Shut the number down already!

I too just received a call from "IRS" at 202 506 9750. I always check the number if the caller is unknown to me. They insisted on me calling them back..in a recorded message. I wont be calling them back, but instead warning others that the IRS will send you a letter, and you can go to your local IRS office and discuss it, if necessary. I agree our government needs to crack down on this fraud, however, it is "caveat emptor". (buyer beware). Remember, you are a buyer if you give your credit card or walmart card number for payment. I NEVER EVER give my credit card to anyone who calls me. I must initiate the call or no credit card number, that way, I know the number is real.

I got the same call from a DC # - 202-506-9713. A recorded message claiming to be from the IRS urged me to call them. When i called them, they wanted my name, which I refused to give. I asked them who they were looking for and they told me 'David' - I told them I was not David and they should remove my phone #. They refused to remove my # without my name, which I refused to give them. They are NOT the IRS, and PLEASE DO NOT EVEN GIVE THEM YOUR NAME! Sorry about the CAPS, but I don't want anyone to fall for this.

got the scam call (recording) with a return # to call - 202 241 9750 call quality poor, ends with "take care" hilarious, and clue that is from a foreign source (weak English skills)

I received a call from a Jack Sanders with an Indian accent. He stated he was calling from the US DEPT of Treasury and wanted us to contact an atty about our taxes. I told him he was a Jackass and will report him. his phone# 202 242 7513.

I received 4 calls within an hour yesterday, September 11th. Each time a man with a thick Indian accent - Steve Martin - said he was with the US Treasury and that he was calling about an enforcement action. If I did not call back I could be part of a grand jury. His call back number was 267-499-4090. Caller ID was Philidephia PA. This happens to me all the time! Either from Miami, DC or unknown. Really sick of these scams!

Same call to me several times in the last few months. I knew it was a scam. Steve's incoming phone number was 650-739-8031. Can't determine his accent, but he has one. I tried blocking the numbers, but they find another way to call. My advice: Never answer the phone from an someone you do not know.

Yes iam returning to school it was 1week ago today I had got a call about clear up student school debt,so the sceond time.the Second importance, call was it the One that make.the.differnts it was a lady yes said that I was had been hand pick yes choosen.ha ha the more it talk about it to my family and girl friend the anrger billedUP.it just a scam my sister knew right awayI have brother with the same nameMIKEJohnson.my brother didnt like.that ha ha.in one week life change I was hope I was real they my card number yes I feel for it I still.talk to the.people on everday even got their fack bank number.they me.the.tracking number.at bank fed bank they calm.basic.about loading my card green dot paypale.wallgreen.phone.call was differnt

I just a call from a man named Sam smith with a deep Indian accent saying I was picked for a personal grant for 8,500 an I had to put a 250 deposit down to receive the money from the new York federal bank but that they where stationed in Washington DC an gave me a Pennsylvania st address an my money would be retuned after my funds came man I'm glad I didn't send them the money an its was supposed to be from the department of health and human services

Also irs scam threatens jail and 911 on call waiting freaked out
Numbers are 202-241-8598
202643-4395. Frustrating that they get away with this. They also wanted prepaid card and kept threatening

Received several robo calls from a woman identified as from IRS. Warning of IRS law suit. Call back number 202-239-1189. Obvious scam.

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