The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), Office of Inspector General, investigates individuals' use of fraudulent Treasury-related financial obligations or accounts to attempt purchases or pay debts. Fraud perpetrators across the nation have recently begun to use fraudulent promissory notes and/or private bonds as vehicles to defraud investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Department of the Treasury is also aware of several fraudulent schemes that involve what are claimed to be securities issued or backed by the Treasury Department or another part of the U.S. Government. These scams have been directed towards banks, charities, individuals, and companies which seek payment on the fraudulent securities. Many of the scams originate from persons attempting to avoid paying tax obligations: the Internal Revenue Service provides additional background and information on these scams here.
Another scheme is a variation of a common fraud generally known as "redemption" or "acceptance for value" that incorrectly asserts the United States government has trust accounts linked to each citizen. The theory is not supported in fact or law and has been soundly rejected by the federal courts. Perpetrators will annotate or stamp invoices with "Accept for Value" or similar language, with various numbers purporting to be account numbers. Such annotations are without merit and establish no rights or privileges in any federal or state account or agency.
Recently, Treasury OIG has become aware of a different variation of this scheme. Individuals are obtaining routing numbers from Treasury bureaus, specifically the Financial Management Service (FMS) and the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD), or a Federal Reserve bank, and using these numbers to make the false notes appear genuine.
Further, many of these fraudsters hold seminars throughout the United States, teaching attendees how to create these fictitious documents and how to use federal routing numbers. Individuals are now creating false checking accounts with the federal routing numbers, using their social security number as the checking account number, and listing the bank as either the FMS or the BPD. Be advised that Treasury bureaus and the Treasury Direct Program do NOT offer checking accounts for the public, and they will NOT honor any of these checks. Participating in these scams can result in serious criminal and civil penalties.
It is also a violation of Federal Law to misuse the Treasury seal or the words, titles, symbols, or emblems of the Treasury Department, or any service, bureau, office or Treasury subdivision; see 31 U.S.C. 333.
Scammers Falsely Purporting to be Calling from the Treasury Office of Legal Affairs or Emailing from the Office of the Secretary of The Treasury: Scammers call an individual asserting that the individual has been awarded a grant or a similar sum of money and request personal information or a sum of money to “release” the funds. The Treasury does not have such a program. Likewise, e-mails promising a sum of money and purporting to be from the Treasury Secretary or his staff are false. We urge recipients of such calls or e-mails to be extremely wary of any scheme requiring an advance payment for a later promise of funds—these are hallmarks of scams. A similar scam is a caller falsely representing that he is from the Internal Revenue Service and demanding payment or information. These callers have been described as threatening or abusive, and tell victims they need to make immediate payment to forestall arrest. Further information concerning this fraud is available at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Repeats-Warning-about-Phone-Scams.
Click the links below for specific information on sample fraudulent schemes and documents that falsely use name of Treasury bureaus and/or officials. These and similar documents are NOT valid negotiable financial instruments and recipients should NOT accept them or attempt to use them.
How Marketable Treasury Securities Work
Learn about the types of securities, how they are sold, and how book-entry securities are held.
Scams Involving Treasury Securities
Find out more about the renting, leasing, or blocking of Treasury securities.
Examples of Known Phony Securities
See example of phony securities and learn more about the scams.
Historical Bond Fraud
Learn about the many scams involving historical bonds.
Prime Bank Instrument Fraud
Find out about the different types of fraud, and important buzzwords and red flags to watch for. Also, get links for investigative help.
How to Protect Yourself from Investment Scams
Useful tips that will help protect you from scams.
Other Fraud Sites of Interest
Links to resources that will help you protect yourself from fraud.
Prohibition Against Misuse of Treasury Names, Terms, Symbols, Stationary, Etc.
See examples of illegal solicitous mailings made to appear like official federal government communication.
Bogus Sight Drafts/Bills of Exchange Drawn on the Treasury
Warnings issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; examples of fraudulent drafts.
Fraud regarding ComputerCop software
A falsified letter from the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture [link] is being circulated indicating that the Treasury approves or endorses this product: it does not. Neither the Treasury nor the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture endorses this or any other particular product and the use of equitable sharing funds does not in any way imply such an endorsement.