There's a phone scam going around that almost had me falling for it. The goal of this article is to raise awareness in hopes to educate the SouthCoast community. This should help you to differentiate the scam artists in the event you get the same phone call as I received.

Earlier today, I received a phone call from a man who identified himself as an agent for the United States Customs and Border Department by the name of Daniel Brown, badge number 633662J.

Brown had advised me that I am wanted for questioning for money laundering and drug trafficking. He continued to explain that my identity had been compromised and that several shipments of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, as well as $94,000 in American bills along with nine fake driver's licenses, were confiscated in El Paso, Texas. The shipment was logged under my name and imported from Mexico – a total street value of $250,000 to be exact.

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When I began asking questions, I was told that I was being recorded on a secure federal line and that an internal investigation was put in place by a U.S. Marshal. In order to separate my identity from the person who has been pretending to be me, it was imperative to answer a pretty lengthy set of questions. Believe me when I say, I've been called by frauds and scammers before, and this one took the cake. Not only was it believable, but it started to become concerning, and I'll tell you why.

About a week ago, my license was taken from my car when someone broke in and robbed my wallet. These days, all a hacker needs is your driver's license to do some extensive damage financially, and I was afraid that this might just be the case, especially since the first thing Brown asked me was if my license had been misplaced, stolen, or lost. What a coincidence!

I needed to do a little digging to check off all the boxes, so I called over to the Dartmouth State Police barracks, where they not only suggested that it was a scam (they said a lot of people were calling in with the same question after getting a similar phone call) but to be safe, to call over to the Fall River DEA's office to confirm.

Long story short, I was informed that in the case of suspicious, illegal, or fraudulent activity, especially internationally (between Mexico and the United States), the agent would never call you direct, especially to ask questions.

The best thing you can do in this situation is to hang up and do not give them a drop of personal, private information. Tell them to send a police officer to your residence if you think it's serious. Chances are, in the likeliness that it's not a scam, they will continue to call back immediately after you hang up.

Stay on your toes and just be aware of these bogus phone calls. These days, scammers are getting more difficult to differentiate from real situations. Best to keep to yourself and be cautious about who you speak to, especially over the phone.

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