phones

Cold calls are a common ways for scammers to try to reach potential victims.

The Department of Justice is warning that scammers claiming to be with the Justice Department may be targeting Louisiana residents, especially the elderly.

The department is investigating multiple reports of the fraudulent calls, according to a statement from acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook.

The scammers call claiming to be DOJ investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information. Sometimes they leave a voicemail with a return phone number, according to the statement.

Upon returning the call, individuals are directed to a recorded menu that matches the menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.

“Phone scams are an ugly and pervasive act of victimization," said Jessica Hart, director of the Office for Victims of Crime, which monitors reports to the National Elder Fraud Hotline.

"The scams being reported to our National Elder Fraud Hotline are especially heinous because they show the perpetrators are preying upon one of the most vulnerable segments of our society — the elderly," she said. “As if this were not despicable enough, the scammers do so posing as employees of the Justice Department, usurping public trust in the agency that serves as a bastion of fairness and lawfulness while these scams exploit the elderly for financial gain."

Anyone who receives such a call is strongly encourage to protect their personal information and immediately report the call to the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357. Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action at justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud.