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Federal agents warns of phone scam after man gets suspicious call

Scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, then calling random numbers to get their sensitive information.
Phone screens lit up with calls lay in a row
Posted at 10:02 AM, Jul 30, 2023

A Scripps News Norfolk viewer is raising the red flag about what's being called the "CBP phone scam."

Scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, then calling random numbers to get their sensitive information.

For example, the person on the other end calls you and says they intercepted an international package with your name on it and drugs inside. A call like that can be intimidating if you think it is real.

"[When they call, the scammers] give a name of somebody who is actually with our agency. In fact, they have used my name in the past," said Steve Sapp, a Customs and Border Protection Spokesperson with the Mid-Atlantic Region.

He said the scam has been going on for several years, but it is concerning every time they receive a report that it has happened again.

"The first thing consumers should know is if it's drugs, we're not going to release it to you. We're more than likely going to come knock on your door and have a nice little chat with you and maybe put on some silver bracelets for importing drugs," he said.

In the case with the Scripps News Norfolk viewer, the caller shared their alleged name, badge number, and a case file number to try and seem credible.

While it may sound legit, Sapp said it is just a tactic to intimidate.

"[These badge numbers and case numbers are] just a collection of numbers and digits, right? So, it does not mean anything to you [and it] does not mean anything to me," Sapp said.

The caller then said they had our viewer's home address and bank accounts on file but needed the exact routing numbers to freeze the accounts. At this point, they hung up the phone and knew it was not legitimate.

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Sapp said the Department of Homeland Security and CBP will never call you over the phone, solicit money or Bitcoin.

The big takeaway: If you get this call, or a call where someone is trying to get your personal information, hang up immediately.

"Protect yourself, do your due diligence, but most importantly, don't provide any personal information over the telephone and do not wire money to anybody you don't know," Sapp said. “[These criminals] are making $50 to $60 million a month on the different scams that are circulating.”

If people fall victim and lose any money, there is not much they can do because the numbers are spoofed and these people disappear into the dark web, but they should report everything to the Federal Trade Commission.

Click here to report to the FTC.

This story was originally published by Erin Miller at Scripps News Norfolk.