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BBB Alter: Fraudsters Fire Up Fear Factor on Money and ID Thefts

Fraudsters Fire Up Fear Factor on Money and ID Thefts

Law Enforcement Impostors text/email altered police badges to trick victims

Rockford, IL – June 30, 2022 – Scammers are impersonating both local and national law enforcement officers to increase threat levels to steal your money and identity. Better Business Bureau says to watch out for a new twist in these scams.

Con artists are using doctored images online of “police badges” and other fake but “official-looking” credentials to gain your trust.

“This new trick makes the con artist more believable,” says Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “It can take people off guard as an extra scare tactic. Fear can cloud judgment, and it’s easy to think it’s important to follow instructions because it’s the police.”

How the scam works
You receive a telephone call, email, text message, or a message on social media from someone alleging to be from a law enforcement agency. Scammers claim to represent agencies ranging from the local police to the county sheriff to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

These impostors tell you there is a problem that you need to resolve immediately—usually by sending them a fee. In one recent version of this scam, the impostor claims to have seized a package with your name on it. Now, they need a copy of your driver’s license and money to fix the issue. Scammers often threaten fines, arrest, or other penalties to scare you into immediate action.

Here's the new twist: If you hesitate, the scammers will offer to text or email credentials to you to confirm their identity. The badge is either stolen or has been edited to include a different name. But no matter how convincing the “badge” or the impostor’s story may be, always do your research before acting. If you send these scammers money, they will disappear, and you won’t be able to get it back.

How to avoid law enforcement impersonator scams
  • Don’t give in to pressure. Even if the threats scare you, do not take immediate action. Hang up or ignore the message. If you think there is a possibility an actual law enforcement agent has contacted you, call the agency directly using a non-emergency number to confirm.
  • Never send money to strangers. Scammers will probably ask you to wire funds or buy prepaid gift cards to pay the required “fines.” Scammers prefer to receive money this way because it is hard to trace. Plus, you won’t be able to get your money back.
  • Guard your personal information carefully. Don’t share information like your address, social security number, or bank account information without first making sure you are speaking to a legitimate official – even if they already have some of your information.
  • Don’t answer messages from strangers. Don’t click on links or attachments in messages from strangers. They are probably part of a phishing scam. Block unsolicited calls and text messages immediately.

For more information
If you spot a law enforcement scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. You can also report your experience to the FBI at IC3.gov. Your report can help others avoid similar schemes. Sign up for BBB’s free consumer newsletter, BBB Edge, at BBB.org/ChicagoBuzz. Visit BBB.org or follow us @ChicagoBBB on social media.
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About BBB:
BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that has served both consumers and trustworthy businesses for 96 years and is a part of the IABBB. We help protect consumers from scams and provide a free database for consumers to see business ratings and reviews to find businesses they can trust. We connect customers to businesses they can trust. BBB is the sign of a better business.

The International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) is the network hub for BBBs in the US, Canada and Mexico. Like BBBs, IABBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers -- instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all. Please visit BBB.org for more information
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