00:08 GMT07 June 2020
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    By giving an unknown person a small amount of money, victims fell into a much more elaborate scheme that eventually cost them much more, a US Department of Homeland Security official warning says.

    A particularly elaborate scheme involving social media and terrorist groups has been unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security, which issued an official warning Monday.

    According to the Department's Office of the Inspector General, the scheme involved several steps. First, a scammer met a victim through Facebook Messenger and pretended to seek friendship or displayed romantic interest. After a while, the scammer came up with a story of financial hardships and asked for a "small amount of money."

    Victims whose internal alarms didn't ring immediately later fell much deeper down the rabbit hole of extortion. The scammer, pretending to be a US security agent — probably the DHS or other agency — told the victim they just gave money to a Daesh or Al-Qaeda terrorist and are now subject to imprisonment for funding terrorism.

    The scammers sometimes used spoofed DHS numbers or numbers of other agencies. Public law enforcement numbers can be subject to spoofing, the DHS warning says.

    The alleged agent then told the terrified victim to contact a specific lawyer who could help with their situation. The lawyer was another scammer and asked for $1,000 or more via check or wire transfer, as a "retainer," according to the warning.

    The DHS, says they take this situation "very seriously," adding that real officials will never ask a person to pay fines over the phone or request money in any other ways.

    The Department encourages potential scam victims to ask the scammers for their contact phone numbers and email addresses, as such information could help to take the scammers down.

    Daesh is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and other countries.


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    extortion, scam, al-Qaeda, Daesh, Facebook, United States
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