Unscrupulous criminals are impersonating employees of the United States Department of Justice to scam elderly victims of crime.
The DOJ issued a fraud alert on Friday in which it strongly encouraged the public to remain vigilant and urged them not to provide personal information over the phone to anyone claiming to be from the department.
An alert was issued after the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) received multiple reports that individuals claiming to represent the Department of Justice are calling members of the public as part of an imposter scam.
A DOJ spokesperson said: “Reports to the National Elder Fraud Hotline indicate these scammers falsely represent themselves as Department of Justice investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information from the call recipient, or they leave a voicemail with a return phone number.”
The return phone number directs users to a recorded menu that has been set up to match the genuine recorded menu for the department’s main phone number.
Eventually, the user reaches a fake operator who connects them to someone claiming to be an investigator. That charlatan investigator then attempts to con the user into sharing their personal information.
The National Elder Fraud Hotline is open seven days a week for people to report fraud against American seniors aged 60 or older.
“Phone scams are an ugly and pervasive act of victimization. The scams being reported to our National Elder Fraud Hotline are especially heinous because they show the perpetrators are preying upon one of the most vulnerable segments of our society—the elderly,” said OVC director Jessica Hart.
“As if this were not despicable enough, the scammers do so posing as employees of the Justice Department, usurping public trust in the agency that serves as a bastion of fairness and lawfulness while these scams exploit the elderly for financial gain.”
Hart added that the first step to identifying the criminals behind such scams is to report their crimes to the relevant authorities.
Americans who receive one of these calls are urged to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.