The FBI is warning individuals employed in the healthcare industry of ongoing widespread fraud schemes in which scammers impersonate law enforcement or government officials in attempts to extort money or steal personally identifiable information (PII).
HOW IT WORKS
Scammers, as part of a large criminal network, research background information of their intended targets through a medical practice’s website and/or social media and supplement this information with information found on common social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., to make themselves appear legitimate.
Scammers will often spoof authentic phone numbers and names and use fake credentials of well-known government and law enforcement agencies to notify the intended target they were subpoenaed to provide expert witness testimony in a criminal or civil court case. The health care professional is notified since they did not appear in court, they are in violation of the subpoena, have been held in contempt, and an arrest warrant has been issued for them.
The targeted victim is told if they pay a court fine, they will no longer be held in contempt. Scammers use an urgent and aggressive tone coupled with scare tactics that claim the target victim is currently under surveillance and an arrest warrant will involve an early morning police raid. The intended victim is warned non-compliance will result in their medical license being revoked.
Payment is demanded in various forms, with the most prevalent being prepaid cards, wire transfers, and cash, sent by mail or inserted into cryptocurrency ATMs. Victims are asked to read prepaid card numbers over the phone or text a picture of the card. Mailed cash will be hidden or packaged to avoid detection by normal mail scanning devices. Wire transfers are often sent overseas and at times in person cash payments or drop offs are completed.
If victims make money payments, a new reason to send additional funds is used, such as additional court costs for having to continue the court hearing. Often the scammers will change tactics and impersonate law enforcement officers stating their victim has been identified as a participant of a scam and are currently under investigation for their part in sending money to the criminals. They are then told another payment will exonerate them from their part of the scam.
· Law enforcement authorities or government officials will never contact members of the public or medical practitioners by telephone to demand any form of payment, or to request personal or sensitive information. Any legitimate investigation or legal action will be done in person or by official letter.
· Always ask for credentials to validate identity.
· NO legitimate law enforcement or government official will request payment via prepaid cards or cryptocurrency ATM.
· Never give personally identifying information (PII) to anyone without verifying the person is who they say they are.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM
· Cease all contact with the scammers immediately.
· Notify your financial institutions and safeguard any financial accounts.
· Contact your local law enforcement and file a police report.
· File a complaint with the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov.
· Be sure to keep any financial transaction information, including prepaid cards and banking records, and all telephone, text, or email communications.