Fraud Alert: Scammers claiming to be with DOJ, preying on elderly

| September 16, 2020 12:00 AM

Clark Fork Valley Press

The Montana Department of Justice is advising the public of an imposter scam in which persons claiming to represent the department are calling individuals and appear to be targeting the elderly.

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has received multiple reports of the imposter scam, and the DOJ strongly encourages the public to remain vigilant and not to provide personal information during these calls.

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 matches the recorded menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.

"Exploiting the elderly for financial gain through such scams is a crime, and posing as DOJ employees makes it even more despicable because it undermines the public's trust in the department. I urge everyone to independently verify the identity of a caller before giving any personal information. An investigating agent will never request financial information," U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

“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. The first step to identifying these criminals is to have their crimes reported,” said OVC Director Jessica Hart.

Those who receive these calls are encouraged not to provide personal information and to report these scams to the FTC via their website or by calling 877–FTC–HELP (877-382-4357).

Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud.

The National Elder Fraud Hotline is a resource created by OVC for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older.

Reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible, and within the first 2–3 days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open seven days a week.

For more information about the hotline, please visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.