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The FBI has issued a warning about an increase in online scams, where fraudsters impersonate government officials to deceive victims into liquidating their assets, often leading them to purchase gold or other precious metals.
According to the agency’s announcement on Monday, this type of fraudulent activity saw a significant rise between May and December of the previous year, with financial losses exceeding $55 million, predominantly affecting senior citizens.
How it works:
Scammers employ a sophisticated strategy by initially posing as representatives from tech companies or financial institutions before claiming to be government officials. They convince victims their financial accounts are compromised and advise safeguarding their funds by converting them into precious metals. The FBI detailed that victims are sometimes directed to wire money to metal dealers, who supposedly send the metals directly to the victims’ homes.
Subsequently, the scammers arrange for couriers to collect these valuables either from the victims’ residences or public places, often under the guise of protecting the assets by placing them in secure accounts. Victims are left out of pocket when the scammers cease all communication after the pickup. The agency highlighted a strange tactic where scammers request the serial number of a dollar bill to verify transactions.
Responding to these scams, the FBI urges victims to report these incidents promptly and emphasizes that legitimate government entities and businesses will never ask individuals to purchase precious metals for security reasons. The FBI also advises the public to safeguard personal information, be cautious of unsolicited communications, and refrain from downloading software or allowing remote access to personal computers based on requests through dubious means.