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There are many scammers who pretend to be government officials – from the IRS, Social Security, and even the FTC. The latest twist is an email from – supposedly – the Secretary of State. In the email, someone pretending to be Secretary Tillerson says you’re owed a payment – which he knows about because of an investigation by the FBI and CIA. The email goes on to say that you’ll get an ATM card with $1.85 million on it – and it even gives you the PIN code. But, to get the ATM card, you have to send in $320 and a bunch of information about you.

Except you don’t have to send either the money or the information. Because it’s not the Secretary of State emailing, nobody owes you $1.85 million dollars (just guessing), and no government agency will ever tell you to pay a fee to collect funds owed to you. Here’s what you can do the next time you get an email or call from someone claiming to be from the government. Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Did they say you’ve won a prize, owe money, or might go to jail?
  2. Did they say that you can get the prize – or get out of trouble – if you pay them money right away?

If the answer to these is “yes,” that’s going to be a scam. You don’t need to send money. You don’t need to give up your information by phone or email. You don’t need to worry. But what I hope you will do is tell people you know about the scam you spotted – and then tell the FTC.

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35 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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bm4563
January 30, 2018

thanks. mi

cnybiz
January 30, 2018

In reply to by bm4563

We need to provide to consumers when Amazon offers you a PRIME CARD. They are scammer, steal your info by apply that and sell it to other company I got this type of scam already and they co business with Synchrony Bank in Florida, they keep sending me and letter ask me to pay the late fees plus penalty if not they will let collection agent take care that, i did report to FTC.GOV and see what is going on, they check my credit re[ort 3 beaureau almost more than 10 times in 2017
FTC Staff
March 01, 2018

In reply to by cnybiz

If you really do not have an Amazon Prime card, maybe someone used your name to get a card. If someone used your name to get a card, that is identity theft.

Go to IdentityTheft.gov and report identity theft. Report that someone used your information to get a credit card account. Create an Identity Theft Report.  Send your Identity Theft Report and a letter to the credit card company and to the credit bureau. The credit bureau must remove fraudulent information from your credit report. The company can't try to collect the debt.

theydontlisten2us
May 15, 2018

In reply to by cnybiz

i filed a ftc complaint have actual confirmation of cancel orders amazon charged anyway the credit company said "the only customers having trouble are prime members" since prime I was double charged over charged finally I saw tiny refunds on my statement $2 $4 $14 $2 $4 and it filled my statement I tried to tell amazon to no avail they actually said Fax my credit card to their international number well...ftc are you hearing us yet
Smarty1
January 30, 2018
An on-time message.
Zulaa_2844
January 30, 2018

what should I do now?. will I get my money back?. Would anyone find this fraud?.

Guessed it
January 30, 2018
There are so many scammers out there and they have gotten a few ppl I know. Glad I hadn’t fell for them I did send reports about it.
Ms Annie
January 30, 2018

In reply to by Guessed it

I got one of this past week. Other than obviously being a fraud, the email to me contained many spelling errors. That made me laugh!
Beinformed
January 30, 2018

In reply to by Ms Annie

A big clue!Someone tried to scam us last year when we were looking for a place to rent, and one of the red flags was a poorly written rental lease! I used to be a paralegal so I knew immediately it wasn't leegit! They also wanted to rent to us without being able to see inside and send a deposit! We couldn't believe it!
Don't use your…
January 30, 2018
What state is this referring too?
Cappy
January 30, 2018
WHY would I be owed $1.85 million? Left to me by my rich Nigerian uncle, Sam?
Teacher2018
January 30, 2018
This information is of great interest to me, thank you.
no fool anymore
January 30, 2018
I got 2 spam emails just this morning pretending to have BIG BIG BUCKS to send me! I did what I always do now days, I did a search with some of their names, banks, countries----SCAM SCAM SCAM! WE ALL would LOVE to find we have BIG BUCKS COMING TO US! SCAMMERS PRAY ON US---IF WE FALL FOR IT, WE CAN LOOSE EVERYTHING!!!
Juanita
January 30, 2018
I get spam emails and all the time stating that the IRS, or another country has million, thousands of dollars and yet they can only release the funds if I pay X-amount of dollars before the funds are released. they want full name, address, phone, SS numbers etc. If you actually read the emails you will find numerous grammatical, mispellings, punctuation errors, etc.
Toombs
January 31, 2018

In reply to by Juanita

LOL, yet interesting... you could get exactly that from a Real Estate or Trust. Meaning, you may want to do the research and keep records (ask them for a copy/proof). Be ready and pro-active [Alert]. "Don't handle odd matters alone, without setting aside or isolating". Sometimes you can learn much, sitting in the dummy seat :)
marina52
January 30, 2018

Hello, we have reached a new level of fraud. A woman answered in a 73 old man she was a representative and after great wins when he deposits the money, he transferred to three different cities in EU cities, after a few days she answered again and persuaded her to transfer to the same man his entire savings of 180.000 € , Luckily when he wanted to do the tzun he told him and told him, he went with him to police and filed a reminder. Officials said this kind of fraud had not yet. the shop in Zell am See. A

Ranwin
January 30, 2018
You should never send anyone money or information. You can always call or visit the specific government office and they will set you straight. It works every time.
P.J.
January 30, 2018
Well, I hope some day the scammers will all get caught and that we devise more and more ways to catch them. If it becomes so difficult to get away with scamming, they won't want to do it anymore. It's annoying and troubling just knowing they are out there.
Nbryant1092
February 02, 2018
I hate scammers
cnybiz
January 30, 2018
New type of SCAMMER steal customers money by offer the money saving and environmental protection.... your pocket money will go to them, I got mug last month bill, over charge me by IDT Energy compnay call the SERVICE PROVIDER, 2 1/2 times more than last year same equipment same usage.
dtweney
January 31, 2018
What is the apparent sender of this phishing message? Does it actually appear to come from a state.gov email address?
Marckguinoo
January 31, 2018
Thank you for this information
Tropea
February 01, 2018
Very simple for anyone reading this message. Tell all your friends not to answer the phone if they do not recognize the phone number. Do not reply to any e-mail messages or text messages. End of story. Any collection agency or debt owed always is followed up with a letter.
criptospark
February 01, 2018
true that according to USA.GOV the US GOVERMENT will never contact anyone via-email snail mail yes
Roman Samoa
February 02, 2018
Be mindful of regular mail also. Never provide any info about yourself unless you know exactly where and who it's coming from. I've had some scam letters mailed to me from some obscure Insurance companies.
scammers can’t…
February 04, 2018
Scam artists are not going to get away with the cowardly, evil way they make money-stealing-lying-using and get a kick out of destroying lives! Spoiler alert scum scammers in the end (your end) you are going to have to face God and Jesus better WISE UP NOW and STOP because you are in BIG trouble, or choose to be the low form of life you are and burn in Hell for eternity with the one that is scamming you! Satan! Not so smart but you have a choice right now to never, ever, ever scam anyone again!!!
rusty
February 04, 2018
only widespread advertising in newspapers and tv can stop this ,more power to the people
BigVal72
February 12, 2018
I'm getting scam emails daily
WhatupLynn
March 01, 2018
To. Whom. It. May. Concerns. My. Name. Is. Mr. Lynn M . I'm. Born. And. Raise. In. New. York. Brooklyn. Since. Me. And. Wife. Separated. I. Been. Living. With. Family. Family. Taken. On. It. Self. And. Moved. From. New. York. City. To. Charlotte, North. Carolina. Also. I. Be. On. Internet. Sometimes. I. Get. Hacked. My. Information. Plus. At. My. Home. Had. Personal. Information. Stolen. Personal. Information. Birth. Certificate. Also. High. Schools. Diploma. And. Resumes. Missing. Driving. License. And. Social. Security. Card. Missing. Need. Help !!!
FTC Staff
March 01, 2018

In reply to by WhatupLynn

If someone took your personal documents that could be identity theft. You can call the FTC to report identity theft: 1-877-438-4338.  Call Social Security at 1-800-269-0271.

Mepissedoff
March 18, 2018
I've been getting emails from several different places Benin republic, western union also someone claiming to be an agent from the FBI stating I'm a beneficiary of someone over seas. I'm not falling for their scams.
princess
May 03, 2018
What are some examples of the scam
Belinn
July 23, 2018
Your link to "tell the FTC" leads to a page which does not allow use of the back button to return to this blog. If you can influence them to correct this please do (since them is another part of you) otherwise please change to an "open in new window" style of link.
ak anon
February 23, 2020
I got an email claiming I won a Guinness Brewery Promo. It claimed to be from Jacqueline Manning, the Chief if Staff for a Massachusetts house representative. It even had her mahouse.gov email.