FBI phone scam targets college students

The scammers spoof the numbers to make it look like the FBI is calling the victims.

The FBI wants your money, or at least that's what some scammers are telling some college students so they can separate them from their hard-earned tax returns.

For one metro east college student it ended with him losing thousands of dollars.

It started with a voicemail

“I wasn't going to call it back, but I typed the number into Google and the FBI number in Jeff city came up,” said a Metro East college student who asked to remain anonymous. He agreed to share his costly cautionary tale with us.

Convinced the FBI was trying to get in touch with him, he called the number back and got some bad news about his tax return

“Being somebody that doesn't know taxes, he pointed me to sections I didn't fill out. I was kind of like 'Crap, OK we screwed up,'” said the student.

The scammers knew details about his student loans, so he believed them when they said he owed $2,000 dollars to the government. This bright college student would then make a mistake that keeps these scammers in business.

“We warn people all the time to never ever wire money, never ever use Moneygram,” said Bill Smith, a St Louis BBB investigator.

That's because once that money is gone, it's untraceable. The student lost $2,000 — all because he trusted the FBI phone number he saw on his phone. That was his first mistake.

“It's apparently very easy to spoof numbers. People who are calling from outside the country can make it look like it's a local call, a government office, a business or attorney's office,” said Smith.

Experts say, using the FBI to intimidate college students is latest version of the IRS phishing scam, which, to date, has stolen more than $30 million from trusting tax payers like the student we talked to. His advice?

“Watch the news. if I would've watched the news, I would've known,” said the student.

Moneygram couldn't help the student track down the person who picked up his money. The St Louis BBB has received more than 30 complaints about this scam so far this year. If you get a call like this, they advise you get a badge number, hang up and contact your local FBI office.


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