The Federal Trade Commission issued a unique consumer alert this week, warning that scammers pretending to be the U.S. regulatory agency have been attempting to bilk the public out of their bank accounts and life savings.
According to the alert, the scammers purport to be the U.S. Trading Commission and, using the FTC’s seal and address, claims to operate a “personal data protection fund” to compensate individuals whose personal information has been exposed online. The site says consumers can “instantly receive” cash payments by clicking a few links and providing personal information, such as a bank account number or electronic wallet credentials.
“Of course, if you do that, your money will be gone, you may download malware onto your device, and scammers can misuse your personal information to steal your identity,” the FTC warning states. “It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we are not flattered at all by a scam website designed to look like a Federal Trade Commission site and steal your money.”
The FTC said scammers furthered their ruse by using several YouTube links as pop-up sites, and promises that payments are available to “residents of all countries.” The agency warned that victims have been documented as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Latvia.
“Here’s what you need to know. The FTC does shut down scams and return money to people who lost it to dishonest or unfair business practices. But we will never ask for money, or for your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number so that you can get a refund. If the FTC needs to get money to you, we usually send a check through the mail. You can learn about our refund programs at FTC.gov/refunds,” the agency said.