The FBI-backed Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued an advisory warning that email scammers are impersonating it to extort money from gullible punters.
The cyber-cop squad said several victims had been in contact after they received emails spoofed to look as though they are coming from IC3 itself. The emails state that a criminal report was filed against the victim's name and social security number, and demanded payment to stop legal action.
"Scammers impersonate an IC3 employee to increase credibility and use threats of legal action to create a sense of urgency," the advisory states.
"Victims are informed they have one to two days from the date of the complaint to contact the scammers. Failure to respond to the e-mail will result in an arrest warrant issued to the victim."
When people replied to the emails they were instructed to buy prepaid credit cards and mail them to a specific address in order to avoid arrest. IC3 doesn't say how many people have been caught up in the scam, but it does say it has been reported in multiple US states.
The IC3 advisory warns that it doesn't send these kinds of emails and never asks for money to settle outstanding charges. Anyone receiving these messages is asked to get in touch with the e-crimefighters so investigations can take place. ®