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In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Gabriella Samuels is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Margaret Danniher.


Recently, there was an article on NBC4 in Washington that reported on how a retired man was nearly scammed by an imposter claiming to be a federal agent. The scammer tried to dupe the retired man into converting his retirement fund into gold bars, falsely claiming that it would ensure its safety. Luckily, a friend convinced him to go to the police as the deal seemed wrong. The arrest of the con man serves as a cautionary tale about the rise of scammers impersonating U.S. officials to defraud people of their money. According to the National Security Agency, these scams are only growing in popularity by fraudsters.

Fraudsters prey on unsuspecting victims through government impersonation scams, posing as official government agents. These imposters use various methods—phone calls, emails, texts, and even social media messages—to deceive their targets.

Impersonating government employees, scammers use stolen details like your name and address to create a false sense of authenticity. They use coercion to make you send money or disclose personal information urgently, threatening fines, loss of life savings, or even arrest. Many victims have already suffered financial loss due to these scams.

To safeguard yourself against these types of scams, here are some things to remember:

  • Scammers frequently demand wire transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or payment apps. Why? Because these methods are hard to trace and even harder to recover. Do not make payments through these channels.
  • Do not disclose personal or financial information to individuals who claim to represent the government. If you think a call is real, end it and call the agency using a verified number.
  • Don’t trust caller ID blindly. They are easy to fake.
  • Disregard any emails, texts, or social media messages that come unexpectedly. Scammers use authentic-looking agency emails to deceive and take your money and personal information. Avoid clicking on any links in emails.

Remember, government agencies usually start communicating with you through a letter unless you reach out to them first. Be wary of any unsolicited contact or requests through alternative channels, as it may be a scam. Visit USA.gov for further information.

Any scams you encounter should be reported to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission.