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Two disturbing phone scams have popped up on the FTC’s radar. Both scams have one thing in common: they want to trick (and scare) you out of money. If you live on Staten Island, pay close attention, since these two scams seem to be targeting people in your area. But we know that scammers don’t often stick with one area, so they could expand their target area any time now.

Phone scam extorting parents

This scam starts with someone texting you a picture of your own child — that they could’ve grabbed off of the internet, like your public social media account. Sometimes, these scammers also send frightening pictures, like images of dismembered bodies. In either case, the messages come with the threat that the scammer knows where you live and will kill your family if you don’t pay them. If you get a call like this, report it to your local police right away, before you do anything else.

Phone scam targeting immigrant

This scam starts as an imposter call from someone pretending to be from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These scammers often say your immigration status is being revoked, and the police are on their way to arrest or deport you — unless you pay them money right away.

These are both scams. As scary as they seem, if you’ve gotten these kinds of messages or calls:

  • Don’t respond to calls or texts, and don’t pay, even in the face of threats. Scammers will often try to pressure and intimidate you to get your money or information.
  • Report these scams to your local police department, and then tell the FTC at
  • Set your social media accounts to private. This can keep scammers from getting personal details, or grabbing pictures you don’t want shared.
  • Know that the government will never call or text to threaten you or ask for money. If you’re concerned, look up the agency’s real number and call them directly. Ask them what the story is.

For more tips, check out this video.



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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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October 19, 2020
An inexpensive telephone answering machine could stop those scams and save a lot of people a small fortune.
Gray Squad.Don…
October 20, 2020
Why all of a sudden are you requesting my Facebook log in information with password? I have posted your articles on Facebook in pass and never was asked this information.
FTC Staff
October 21, 2020

In reply to by Gray Squad.Don…

The FTC does not ask for personal information.

You can copy the whole blog into your social media, or copy the link for the blog and paste that into an email or social media post. The URL link for this blog is:

October 20, 2020
Received call stating to call 469 839 6438 a lawsuit filed in my name. If I don't call they will move forward with an arrest
Innocent senior
January 20, 2021

In reply to by Scam

I just received a similar call from 833-596-2153 with a robo voice re: drug trafficking charges will be pressed if I do not call back at the "same number"! Hah! Laughable, and I hope no one falls for this one! This is a new one for Colorado.
October 21, 2020
gut got a call saying that they would arrest me if i did not call them from tx 2548534323 i am in maryland
October 21, 2020
I got a call this morning (21 October) from a lady who claimed to be from the ICE SAC Buffalo, NY field office with the correct number. She told me I violated a federal law because I did not update my Alien Registration Number the government is not able to track my movements, and hence does not know if I am doing illegal businesses. At first I thought it was a scam call, but she did not attempt to force any payment out of me. All she told me to do was to read off a passage from a section under the "What we do" of the ICE website where she stopped me to give me the reason why I was under investigation. She then proceeded to tell me to present myself to a local USCIS field office to report my information. I am still confused as to whether this is a potential scammer or not.
November 02, 2020
I got a call (888-280-4331) today stating there was a suspicious charge of a Iphone worth 700.00 dollars plus. Advised to press 1 for valid or 2 for not valid. I pressed 2 and then a recording stated something about a poll... then a live person (sounded out of the country, possibly India) came on asking if they were talking to and stated my name. All I kept saying is what does this have to do with my Amazon account. They kept asking if they were speaking to and repeated my name each time. We went back and forth about four times and then he stated well thanks for purchasing the Iphone 7 and have a great day...then hung up. I verified my amazon account and didnt see any charge but maybe a pollster or something sinister.... who knows... just wanted to report the incident.