DENVER (KDVR) — When Kyle Forristall answered his phone, he panicked.
He told FOX31 a woman who identified herself as a DEA agent notified him that his identity had been stolen and used to commit federal crimes in his name.
In order to remove the charges, Forristall was told he must convert $5,000 into cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and pay a designated official.
Forristall said he quickly checked out the phone number the woman provided for the U.S. Marshal Service and found it to be the actual number on the website, so he believed what she told him.
“They kept threatening, you know, ‘If you don’t comply, we’re going to call the cops,’” he said.
The scammers even had a phony case and badge numbers.
The real DEA tells the Problem Solvers this scam originated on the east and west coasts but is now moving inland.
How to spot the scam
DEA Special Agent Jim Higgins makes it clear this is not how the DEA operates.
“Basically, we would never call you and ask for any personal identifiable information. We will never ask for a gift card, we will never ask for credit card information and definitely never ask for money,” Higgins said.
Officials say with scammers now spoofing (hijacking) legitimate agency phone numbers, the best way to avoid scams is to look up agency, company or job search numbers on your own and call more than one number to verify the facts.
It can also help to do an internet search and use the keyword “scam” in association with the issue.
Higgins said if anyone calls you identifying themselves as being from a government agency and asking for money, hang up. The agency asks that scams be reported to reportfraud.ftc.gov
Forristall said he realizes his money is gone, but wanted to share his experience in an effort to help others avoid falling for the same scam.
“Listen to the voice inside your head that is suspicious because I was suspicious the whole time; I wish I listened to myself,” he said.