News Insights: Government Impersonators Targeting North Florida Residents

Government Impersonators Targeting North Florida Residents

Scammers Claim to be Representatives of the FBI in Need of Personal Information

JACKSONVILLE, FL—The FBI Jacksonville Division has received notice that scammers are posing as representatives of the FBI to target residents in North Florida and steal their personal information. Multiple versions of the government impersonation scam have been reported in recent days, all of which exploit intimidation tactics.

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Erich Kron, security awareness advocate KnowBe4:

“This is typical of social engineering attacks, where cybercriminals use the authority of an individual or organization, such as the IRS, to cause fear and anxiety in the potential victim. In this case, the attackers had a complicated scam where, if the potential victim rejected the first story about winning a sweepstakes, they were able to use that failed attempt to continue the attack from a different angle, in this case The FBI investigating the sweepstakes scam.

Because the threat of arrest from a federal entity such as the FBI creates fear and anxiety, potential victims may react without thinking clearly and provide the requested sensitive information. By claiming to be the FBI investigating the sweepstakes scam, the potential victim is rewarded with the knowledge that they identified the scam, adding to their confidence, while also triggering a desire to bring the sweepstakes scammers to justice for attempting to trick them. These emotions all play into poor decisions being made by the potential victim when dealing with the second wave of the scam.

It is important that people be educated to understand how these types of scams work, and to be alert for attacks that create a strong emotional response in either a positive or negative manner. When a person receives a message via email, text message, or even a phone call, and it elicits a strong emotional response, the person needs to be very careful and suspicious of the message. Any legitimate sweepstakes winning, or law enforcement contact will have a method for the individual to contact them back directly. Any claim otherwise, is a big red flag that this is a scam.”