PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The FBI office in Phoenix is warning the public about an "impersonation" phone scam that could be targeting Arizona residents.
Agents say that during the scam, a caller pretends to be an FBI special agent, asks for money, and threatens to arrest the person if money isn’t sent.
In one instance reported in Tucson this month, a victim reported receiving a phone call from someone who claimed to be an FBI employee.
The caller told the victim that he had an arrest warrant and that he would be arrested if he didn’t send money.
Other calls followed from criminals claiming to be affiliated with the FBI.
"These claims are false and the calls are not real," reads a statement from the FBI office in Phoenix. "The FBI defines this type of scam as government impersonation fraud in which criminals impersonate government officials in an attempt to collect money. The criminals often threaten to extort victims with physical or financial harm or the release of sensitive data."
In 2018, the FBI estimates that some 11,000 people fell victim to government impersonation scams. Money lost in those scams amounts to more than $64 million.
The FBI wants to remind the public that federal law enforcement officials will never call or email people to demand money or threaten arrest, and people should not send any money to these criminals.
"The number one way to avoid these scams, first and foremost, is don't allow it to happen," says Agent Jeremy Capello with the FBI Phoenix Division. "Don't pick up the phone if you don't know who's calling."
Don't answer emails from people you don't know, and don't click on links an any unknown emails.
And what should you do if someone comes to your door, claiming to be an agent?
"Slow down the conversation," says Agent Capello. "Take a minute. Take a breath. And call the local FBI field office and verify that the person is actually a special agent."
Anyone who feels they were the victim of this or any other online scam should report the incident immediately using the Internet Crimes Complaint Center’s (IC3) website.
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