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Public Safety News
News Release
Friday, August 10, 2018

HOUSTON — The FBI has issued a warning about a new robocall scam targeting Mandarin-speaking individuals visiting or living in the United States. Officials with both the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have observed a massive spike in the number of reported robocalls in recent months. The FBI and FTC, in cooperation with the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Houston, caution Mandarin-speaking individuals to not disclose any personal information to perpetrators of this sophisticated scam.

The scam works by sending out hundreds of pre-recorded robocalls to random individuals with U.S. phone numbers. The caller poses as an employee of the local PRC Consulate-General. Then, the caller either states that there is a package at the local PRC Consulate-General which needs to be picked up, or asks for personal information in order to clear up issues regarding their status in the United States. In both versions of the scam, the robocaller communicates in Mandarin, spoofs the PRC Consulate-General phone number, and convincingly declares they represent the PRC government. The FBI assesses that these three elements work together to specifically target Mandarin-speaking individuals within the United States.

The FBI, FTC, and the Houston PRC Consulate-General strongly discourage individuals from giving personal information to any caller. “This type of scam works because it preys on the confusion many new immigrants and visitors to this country experience when traveling between China and the United States,” said FBI Houston Assistant Special Agent in Charge Darryl Wegner. “Regardless of who says they’re calling, never send money to anyone who calls and asks you to send it. Never give your Social Security number, your bank or credit card number, or other sensitive information to anyone who calls and asks for it,” said FTC attorney Patti Poss.

“The Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Houston remains committed to protecting our citizens travelling abroad from all crimes, particularly those which deliberately target the finances of citizens of the People’s Republic of China,” stated a PRC Consulate-General spokesman.

Both U.S. and PRC officials urge individuals who suspect they have been victims of this scam to contact either the FBI Houston Field Office at 713-693-5000, the FBI’s website, or the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint website

Remembering Jim Guidry

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