Federal Trade Commission warns of new scam from 'Chinese Consulate'

INDIANAPOLIS---  A new scam is making the rounds and this time the scammers claim to be from the Chinese Consulate office.

The callers are targeting people with Chinese last names however, anyone can become a victim, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

People across the country are getting calls and messages saying they have to pick up a package at the Chinese Consulate office or they need to avoid being in trouble with the Chinese Consulate.

The caller then asks for your bank account or credit card information, or they tell you to make a bank transfer to them.

“Regardless of who you are or who says they’re calling, never send money to anyone who calls and asks you to send it,” said Patti Poss, an attorney with the FTC. “Never give your Social Security number, your bank or credit card number, or other sensitive information to anyone who calls and asks for it. Same thing if they email or message you through a social media platform such as WeChat: just don’t respond. That’s a scam.”

The real Chinese Consulates, nor the Chinese Embassy, will never call you to ask for money.

“If you get a call or message like this, hang up or delete it, and then tell the FTC,” said Poss. “If you have business with the real Chinese Consulate and you’re worried, contact the real Chinese Consulate by looking up your local office’s number. But, whatever you do, don’t give out your information – or your money – to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.”

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According to the Indiana Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau, government imposter scams are impacting Hoosiers and continue to claim more victims as the scammers pretend to be government agents.

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Consider it a red flag if someone asks you to wire money, or to go buy debit cards or gift cards.
You can file a complaint at IndianaConsumer.com or call (317) 232-6330 or (800) 382-5516.

Tips from the Better Business Bureau on how to spot this scam:

  • The government communicates through the mail, not Facebook. Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited social media posts, calls, text messages or emails you receive.
  • Don't pay any money for a "free" government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it isn't really free. A real government agency won't ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded.
  • Be wary of look-a-like government agencies. Just because the caller says he's from the "Federal Grants Administration" doesn't mean that he is... or that such an agency exists. When in doubt, do a quick online search.
  • Pick up the phone. If you receive a suspicious call or email, call the local government agency to check its legitimacy. Look for the phone number on previous correspondence or the official government website. Don't call the number in the email.
  • Don't trust your friends' tastes online. It might not actually be them "liking" or sharing these scam posts. Their account may have been hacked or impersonated.

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