Greenfield Savings Bank warns of Government Impersonation Scam popping up locally

  • Greenfield Savings Bank has posted signs to warn people of an elaborate new phone scam. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Greenfield Savings Bank has posted signs to warn people of an elaborate new phone scam. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/17/2021 6:56:29 PM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank is warning the public about an elaborate scam that has popped up locally within the past two weeks.

Karen Cartier, the bank’s vice president and identity theft prevention officer, said the “Government Impersonation Scam” has wreaked havoc on customers.

“It’s actually quite horrific and very frightening,” she said. “It is so frightening that people are literally having nervous breakdowns over it.”

Cartier explained scammers purchase “spoof cards,” which allow someone to use a fake caller ID when making calls and prey on unsuspecting people via phone. She said fraudsters disguise their IDs to appear to be from law enforcement agencies like the FBI office in Boston or the CIA to attempt to scare a victim into handing over money by convincing them they are in trouble or at risk.

Cartier said scam artists provide false badge numbers and explain a bogus scenario that requires the person on the other end of the line to fork over cash or gift cards.

A recent specific example, which was quickly spotted by a relative who works at the bank, involved a woman receiving a call that told her a credit card in her name had been used to rent a car that was then used in a murder and found in Mexico. Cartier said the scammer convinced the victim that the only way to be exonerated was to close her bank account and give all the money to the scammer. Otherwise, the fake FBI agent claimed, the woman would be taken into custody and extradited to Mexico, where U.S. authorities would be unable to help her.

“This is where they go in for the kill,” Cartier said, adding that scammers tell people to trust no one else — not even bankers or the police — with their personal information, and they then give them a working phone number to call them back.

Cartier said that, before calling, scammers will often comb through a victim’s social media accounts to scout for personal information and relationships that can be used as bait. She said all phone scams prey on emotions, but this one goes after people’s worst fears.

“People don’t understand the workings of law enforcement and people don’t understand the workings of banking institutions,” she explained. “As far as we know, we’ve been able to thwart most of these (scams).”

Greenfield Savings Bank is warning people who receive such a call to take notes, hang up, call their local police department and alert their bank.

Cartier said fraudsters call looking for “the golden ticket” of identify theft — name, date of birth, Social Security number and address. They also ask for account numbers and passwords.

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