DOJ warns of phone scam targeting elderly

DOJ warns of phone scam targeting elderly
File image (Source: Gray Television)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The U.S. Department of Justice is alerting the public about an impostor scam that’s appeared on the department’s radar.

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has received multiple reports that scammers claiming to represent the Department of Justice are calling members of the public. The department is strongly encouraging the public to remain vigilant and not provide personal information if you get one of these calls, which appear to target the elderly.

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.

“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. The first step to identifying these criminals is to have their crimes reported.”

Anyone who receives such calls is encouraged to report these scams to the FTC via on its website or by calling 877–FTC–HELP (877-382-4357). Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action at this link.

The National Elder Fraud Hotline is a resource created by OVC for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older. The department says that reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible, and within the first two to three days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses.

The National Elder Fraud Hotline is 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). It is open seven days a week. Click here for more information about the hotline.

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