RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many of you have called 12 about those fake FBI notices that show up in your email. Some people know right away that the notice is not legitimate, but some fall for it. We talked to an FBI agent about the deception and how you can protect yourself.
A notice from the FBI is enough to make anyone pay attention. You've probably seen them in your email, claiming you have unclaimed money or threatening an arrest if you don't respond right away. One of those fake notes claims to be from Agent Adam Lee. We met Special Agent Adam Lee, who's in charge of the Richmond Division of the FBI. He says don't be fooled. The warning is not from him. He says it's part of a persistent scheme where cyber crooks find top leaders within the FBI and fraudulently use their names. "Obviously, it gets a chuckle when I first see it but when you do see the victim side of this line of work that we are in, you lose your humor on these types of things," he said.
Lee says these crooks are looking to make a quick buck or get their hands your personal information. The FBI would never send an email like this. "The FBI is in the business of catching terrorist, spies and serious criminals, we are not in the business of collecting money," he explains.
The safest thing to do if you see one of the emails is to press delete. If you're victim you can file a report with The Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov. "They target our vulnerable populations, so our elderly, immigrant populations, folks without sophistication to read between the lines and see that this is likely not a letter from the FBI," Lee said.
According to Lee, many times these cyber crooks are located overseas and tracking them down can be a challenge. He also said the FBI doesn't have the resources to chase every fraudulent email. The reason the scheme keeps showing up in inboxes is because people still fall for it.