FRAUD ALERT - The "419" Scam
E-mails and certain key words direct one to a website that purport to be blogs or announcements of the Treasury Inspector General or other principal officers of the U.S. Treasury. The site asserts that the Treasury has agreed with certain African governments to make restitution payments to individuals, under the premise that the Treasury has collected funds from its anti-fraud activities that may be distributed to certain “victims.” In fact, the site is itself a fraud. Although site posts anti-fraud warnings and refers to the address and identities of individuals employed by the U.S. Treasury, the site is not sponsored by the U.S. Treasury and can be identified as a fraud by its errors in text and syntax, the improper area code and telephone number, nongovernmental e-mail, and non-governmental final URL extension (generally “.com”), as well as its attempt to seek personal, protected information from those solicited. We recommend that persons check the legitimacy of a site or email purporting to be from the U.S. Treasury, or contact the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for additional information and clarification.
FRAUD ALERT - Foreclosure Review
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has identified the "Nimrod Group" and its purported principal, "Joe Aleks" as entities that have falsely represented themselves to be affiliated with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Independent Foreclosure Review. Neither is in any way approved, endorsed, sponsored, authorized by, or associated with the U.S. Treasury or any office, bureau, or program thereof. Persons receiving correspondence or offers from this group, or any other group alleging such a relationship, should exercise extreme caution. The Independent Foreclosure Review has ended: further details are available at https://independentforeclosurereview.com/. Be alert for scams and beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee for any foreclosure review service or to receive a payment under the Agreement.
FRAUD ALERT - Lottery Scam
The Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General (OIG) has recently received complaints from the public regarding a current scam. The scam is as follows: An individual receives a telephone call from someone who states that he/she is an employee of the “US Government Payroll Service” and that the individual has won $7,000 from a lottery. The individual is given a telephone number (202-738-1774) and a code. The individual is told to go to a Western Union, call the telephone number, and provide the code to an “Edward Brown.” They are advised that Brown will provide more information once they are at the Western Union on how to obtain their lottery winnings. The OIG believes that these individuals will ask you for a bank account if you go to a Western Union and telephone Brown as instructed. However, even if you dismiss the call, the OIG has found that these individuals will continue to telephone you for several days, and even become threatening. The OIG contacted “Edward Brown” at the aforementioned telephone number. Brown stated that he was from the “US Government Payroll Service” and immediately became hostile when confronted.
The OIG has not determined if this group is located in Washington, DC, or is overseas, but utilizing a DC telephone number. Their telephone number will likely change as people become aware of the scam, but they will likely continue a similar scam.
If you receive a telephone call from this group, terminate the telephone call, do not follow their instructions, and do not provide them with bank account or credit card information. The Federal government does not have a “US Government Payroll Service.” Also, be wary of anyone stating that you have won a lottery; especially if you are not familiar with the organization and have not entered a contest recently.
If you have any questions, please contact Treasury OIG at 202-927-5260.
FRAUD ALERT - Fake "Official" Email
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Inspector General, investigates Internet fraud schemes that involve the use of an email purportedly from a high ranking Treasury official, such as the Secretary of the Treasury, that informs the recipient that they are entitled to a large sum of money from the U.S. Treasury. The recipient is told that they can only receive “their” money if they pay a fee to a third party usually via a wire transfer. These emails are targeted to both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.
An example of one of these emails is displayed below:
Indications that the email above is a scam are the use of commercial e-mail addresses, a commercial money service business, and email itself is nonsensical and poorly written, and finally, the offer is too good to be true.
Learning about Internet fraud will allow you to become a more sophisticated Internet user and will reduce the chance of being duped and defrauded.
The federal government website www.usa.gov has created a special section concerning Online Scams (http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Internet-Fraud.shtml) and is an excellent place to start learning about the types of Internet fraud.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a section of its public website dedicated to explaining the various types of Internet fraud (http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud/internet_fraud).
The Internet Crime Complaint Center is another resource for learning about the types of Internet fraud (http://www.ic3.gov/crimeschemes.aspx)
If you receive an email you believe is fraudulent of suspect you may be the victim of an Internet fraud, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/), the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), the FBI (http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us), or your state’s attorney general.
For potential Internet fraud that involves the Internal Revenue Service, please contact The Inspector General for Tax Administration (http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report.shtml). For all other potential fraud that involves or could involve the Department of the Treasury, please contact the Office of Inspector General (http://www.treasury.gov/services/report-fwa/Pages/hotline.aspx)
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU SEND MONEY, REPLY TO OR CLICK ON A LINK IN AN UNSOLICITED EMAIL BEFORE YOU HAVE VERIFIED THAT IT IS LEGITIMATE.
Renting or Leasing
We often hear about solicitations to "rent" or "lease" Treasury securities. Many of these solicitations have originated in the United Kingdom, Greece, and South Africa. To date, we have yet to hear of a genuine renting or leasing arrangement. Usually, the securities offered either don't exist (for instance, the offer is for bearer securities in an amount that exceeds the amount that remains outstanding in bearer form for that CUSIP) or are not owned by the party making the offer.
If you ask a leasing scam artist to produce the securities or otherwise prove ownership, he or she will be unable to do so and will offer excuses such as "they are frozen at my bank," "a wealthy philanthropist has assigned them to us to assign to others for infrastructure or humanitarian purposes in third world countries and wishes to remain anonymous," and "bank secrecy laws of this country prevent such a verification." Also, the scam artist will use one or more of the following tricks to try to con you:
Misuse of Public Debt Forms as Evidence of Ownership
Scam artists often misuse Public Debt forms to try to prove ownership or to make the scam seem "official." The two forms that are commonly misused are:
- (1) PD F 1832 - Special Form of Assignment for U.S. Registered Definitive Securities
- (2) PD F 1071 - Certificate of Ownership of United States Bearer Securities
The PD F 1832 and the PD F 1071 have nothing to do with book-entry bills, notes, or bonds. Unless there are securities physically attached to one of these forms, the form is meaningless and worthless. We only use the PD F 1832 in some cases to correct defective assignments of securities already in our possession. We also sometimes use it for the assignment of a large number of securities or where there is an assignment by two or more geographically separated owners. In all cases, the form is not valid unless the registered securities accompany the form.
We use the PD F 1071 to validate the ownership of bearer notes and bonds that are presented for redemption after they have become overdue. A bearer security becomes overdue after the lapse of between one and six months time from its face maturity date, depending on the original term of the security (such as, three months for a three-year note).
Scam artists try to use the forms as "evidence" that they hold the securities and claim that the forms can convey ownership or title to the securities listed on the forms. But, if you look at such a form you should see that the scam artist is misusing the form and cannot prove ownership of the securities listed. For instance, a typical misused PD F 1071 will fail to list serial numbers for any bearer securities allegedly owned and will fail to provide information explaining why the securities were not presented for payment before they became overdue. (The latter occurs because the bearer securities allegedly owned have not reached maturity at the time the form is misused.)
Misuse of CUSIP Numbers as Evidence of Ownership
Scam artists will also use a valid CUSIP number of a Treasury security that trades regularly in the market so a potential victim can get pricing information and confirm that we did issue the security. CUSIP is an acronym for the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. Each security issue (stocks, corporate, municipal, or Treasury securities) has a unique CUSIP number. The CUSIP number is public information and it identifies an entire issue of a security. It does not identify any specific security, nor does mere use of it show ownership.
Claims That the Scam Has Been Certified by an Official Body
Scam artists may claim that an official body, such as the U.S. Embassy in London or the International Chamber of Commerce, has certified their fraudulent offering. They may also claim that we have created a special issue to the United Nations to pass on to other companies that were willing to do humanitarian and infrastructure projects in developing countries. All these claims are patently false.
Blocking of Assigned Treasury Securities
We periodically get requests to block off an amount of Treasury securities so the securities can be used to fund humanitarian or infrastructure projects in developing countries. This request is impossible for us to honor. We only sell securities at public auctions. We cannot block securities that we do not own.