Frauds & Scams, Office of the Inspector General

Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Warn of Impersonation Scam Involving Credentials and Badges

June 7, 2022 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: June 7, 2022

Serious man using laptopNew reports show that scammers are reviving an old tactic to gain your trust. Scammers are emailing and texting pictures of real and doctored law enforcement credentials and badges in an attempt to ‘prove’ they are legitimate to scam people out of money. Scammers may change the picture or use a different name, agency, or badge number, but the basic scam is the same.

Federal law enforcement agencies are warning the public to be skeptical of emails and text messages claiming to be from a government or law enforcement agency. No one in federal law enforcement will send photographs of credentials or badges to demand any kind of payment, and neither will government employees.

The following agencies joined forces to issue this scam alert:

  • Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
  • Department of Labor OIG.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration OIG.
  • Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

How a Government Imposter Scam Works

These scams primarily use a telephone to contact you. Scammers may also use email, text message, social media, or U.S. mail. Scammers pretend to be from an agency or organization you know to gain your trust. Scammers say there is a problem or a prize. Scammers pressure you to act immediately. Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.

Tips to Protect Yourself

  1. Do not take immediate action. If you receive a communication that causes a strong emotional response, take a deep breath. Hang up or ignore the message. Talk to someone you trust.
  2. Do not transfer your money! Do not buy that gift card! Never pay someone who insists that you pay with a gift card, prepaid debit card, Internet currency or cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money transfer, or by mailing cash. Scammers use these forms of payment because they are hard to trace.
  3. Be skeptical. If you think a real law enforcement officer is trying to reach you, call your local law enforcement using a non-emergency number to verify. Do not believe scammers who “transfer” your call to an official or who give you a number as proof. Scammers can create fake numbers and identities. Do not trust your caller ID.
  4. Be cautious of any contact claiming to be from a government agency or law enforcement telling you about a problem you don’t recognize. Do not provide your personal information, even if the caller has some of your information.
  5. Do not click on links or attachments. Block unwanted calls and text messages.

For more information on scams, visit the FTC Scams page to read about common scams.

If You Are a Victim

Stop talking to the scammer. Notify financial institutions and protect accounts.  Contact local law enforcement and file a police report. File a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and on the FTC website.

Keep financial transaction information and the record of all communications with the scammer.

Please share this information with friends and family – and post it on social media.

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  1. Dan ..

    Kudos to the federal govt folks who are looking out for us. An educated person is one who learns and practices critical thinking. Most of the time, when money is concerned, “going with your gut” ends with a belly ache. Witness all those folks who gave in the past half-dozen years to political liars who sold them out by keeping those fund for their own devilish uses.

  2. Jonathan

    A friend of mine was targeted with one of these scams a few months ago.
    She is elderly and was quite distressed about it. Talking about how the IRS was threatening to arrest her if she didn’t respond. I’m glad that she reached out to me before she told them anything.
    I’ll share this with friends, family and on social media too.

  3. apks

    Great Info. Will try to post to FB.

  4. John S.

    If you get a call and you realize it’s a scammer, try to tie them up on the phone as long as possible. First ask them to hold on a second then go make a sandwich or get a snack. When they ask you specifically to provide information, tell them you need to look that up. Maybe give them made up info and let them research it. Assure them that the info is correct when they come back. When they want access to your PC, lie to them and say you followed their instructions. Do nothing! Keep them guessing.

  5. Joan M.

    They keep trying to tell me my SSN is being used illegally and they will arrest me if I don’t respond. I hang up anyways. Funnily enough, no one is coming to arrest me. I really don’t think they are either.

  6. Elizabeth R.

    They will ripe you funds and run away meet headline for guideline

  7. Sharon

    I got a call wanted me to give them my password so they could unlock my account
    I just hanged up

    This stuff gets worse every day

  8. Steve S.

    I get them all the time if it is a email reply back and if it bounces back then you know it is a scam do the same with tex messagess and if by phone just let it go to your answering maching if you have cell just put it on mute as you can always check it later but be careful sometimes they will leave a messages and a cll back number but if it the numbe is not in your phone book just delete it

    • Janie

      I wouldn’t even click on a link in the email. They can use the link to go to a fake web site that looks like the real thing. Use the official web address and hand type it in if necessary. As for phone calls, I no longer answer any calls from phone numbers not in my contact list. Anyone legitimate will leave a message.

    • Sonny M.

      It is NEVER a good idea to click any link in any email or text that you did not specifically request or otherwise know it is safe. That is one of the easiest ways for a nefarious person to install malware onto your device, whether that is a smart phone, tablet or PC.
      Malware can even be initiated now without any interaction on your part. Sometimes via the preview feature of your email software.
      Depending upon the malware the scammer has chosen to install the damages caused you could be minor all the way to emptying out all of your accounts and other avenues of holding assets.
      The general rule I follow is that if I did not ask for or otherwise expect a message, via any delivery avenue, I simply delete it. Even that is not foolproof but I believe it offers the best current protection from being taken by scammers that I am aware of. That is the best protection outside of security software.

  9. Tom P.

    Great Info. Will try to post to FB.

  10. Glen P.

    They have tried their deceit on me in the past over the phone. Terrible people for sure. Did not work.

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