PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Phone scams have been around for years, but now there’s a new warning.
The callers are getting bolder and downright threatening.
In some cases, the callers are claiming to be with the FBI or some other law enforcement agency.
A voice mail message is what initially panicked Inran Khan, but it didn’t stop there.
An e-mail followed that was allegedly sent from the FBI and was signed by Bureau Director Robert Mueller, which said, “Right now the warrant of arrest has been signed against you.”
“I don’t want the sheriff to be knocking on my door. I don’t want anything to be happening. I was scared,” Khan said.
Here’s what actually happened:
Several phone calls to Khan’s Peters Township home came from an out-of-country phone room.
“Right now there are three serious allegations being pressed on your name by the National Bureau of Crime Investigation Department,” a recorded message said.
When Khan called the overseas number, it was made very clear that they wanted money.
The overseas phone room operator told Khan that it would take $3,000 or they would come to arrest him.
When KDKA-TV’s Marty Griffin got on the phone with the con-artist in the overseas phone room, the conversation ended quickly – they hung up.
The con worked on Dean Devirgillio from Phoenix. He was bilked out of $1,300.
“Threatened to have me arrested at my workplace, send a warrant for my arrest, bring me to the sheriff’s station, put me in jail for three years for fraud,” Devirgillio said.
Devirgilio, who is autistic, panicked and did what the con-artists asked. He went to a local store and put more than $1,300 dollars cash on a Green Dot MoneyPak card.
The card is same as cash once you read the number on the back. When you give it to someone, the money is gone and there is no way to get it back.
“I’m never going to get that money back. It’s hurting me right now financially,” Devirgillio said.
Secret Service agents, who investigate these sorts of cases, said the new scammers have turned up the heat. However, they said it is a scam and to not fall for it.
“No legitimate law enforcement agency would conduct themselves that way. If you are contacted by anyone reporting to be from a law enforcement agency at the federal state or local level, call that agency, contact that agency immediately,” one secret service agent said.
Khan is hoping to spare innocent consumers from getting ripped off.
“When I’m listening to that voice mail, I was shaking thinking, ‘Okay, where do I need to send money?’” Khan said.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind about his scam to better protect yourself.
There is no federal agency that will call you on the phone and threaten you to pay up.
Also, there is a belief this scam hit a lot of Americans during the partial government shutdown.
The hope was that victims would freak out and pay up because they couldn’t get through to a legit federal agency.