The Gist: Scammers are posing as state government officials or claiming the backing of the state and federal government in an effort to steal money from Georgia residents.

The Scam: According to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, scammers have impersonated him and his chief deputy, Dennis Dunn in a recent scam. The scammers call a potential victim claiming to be Carr or Dunn and inform the victim that they owe back taxes.

One consumer reported that the fake Dunn said she owed back taxes and would be arrested if she did not pay immediately by providing payment information over the phone. The scammer then attempted to further establish credibility by directing her victim to the Georgia Office of the Attorney General’s website and pointed to the biography of Chief Deputy Dennis Dunn.

In a similar scam, a phony business sent a consumer a letter telling him he had been selected to win a cash prize in a sweepstakes. The letter indicated that the sweepstakes was “approved” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia. It included alleged “signatures” of FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Christopher Carr. When the consumer contacted the business to collect his prize, he was told he had to pay fees in order to receive his winnings.

How to know it is a scam: While receiving a call from a government official or entity, knowing the role of local government agencies can help you avoid getting scammed. The state attorney general’s office serves as counsel to the governor and the state of Georgia and defends and prosecutes cases on behalf of the state. It does not have any role in endorsing or signing off on sweepstakes nor does it collect tax debts for the federal government.

Here is a helpful list provided by the attorney general’s office of red flags you as a consumer should look for in order to avoid being scammed:

  • Being asked to pay money in order to receive a prize
  • Pressure to act immediately
  • Use of scare tactics, e.g. telling you a loved one is in danger, that your computer has been hacked or threatening arrest if you don’t act now
  • Insistence that you wire money
  • Get-rich-quick and other promises that sound too good to be true
  • Promises to recover money you’ve lost in other scams, for a fee.

The Quote: Carr is using this incident as an opportunity to remind residents that no one, not even government officials, are immune from the reach of scammers.

“We are hoping this alert serves as a warning that no one is immune from scammers who are now using intricate schemes in order to gain the confidence of their victims. The best way to fight back against them is to understand their methods and spot the warning signs before it is too late. Our Consumer Protection Unit will remain vigilant in rooting out these con artists, and we urge you to sign up for our alerts and encourage friends and family to do the same,” Carr said.