Albuquerque, NM – This morning, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a Scam Alert because New Mexicans who use "messenger" services or "apps" to communicate with friends are facing a new criminal hacking scheme. The victim believes he or she is communicating via a messenger service with a friend. Unfortunately, the other end of the message chain is being answered by an imposter who has hacked the actual friend's messenger service — not the friend at all.
"Never pay anyone who demands payment via gift card because the use of non-standard banking devices is a sure sign you are dealing with a scammer," said Attorney General Balderas. "Secondly, never disclose your personal information to someone who initiated the contact electronically with you."
A woman called the Office of the Attorney General yesterday to report that a "friend" on the messenger app told her about a new Health and Human Services program being offered to persons working, not working, or disabled. The "friend" informed our caller that the program would send the caller $50,000 in exchange for a payment of $500 in taxes. Payment via gift card was required. Our caller messaged her "friend" to verify whether the request was legitimate and the scammer, posing as the friend, said "yes". The scammer "confirmed" the program was legitimate — not a scam — all the while pretending to be the caller's friend.
The caller bought gift cards and provided the identification numbers to the scammer. Finally, she realized she was being scammed but it was too late, as she had already provided the identification numbers of the gifts cards to the scammers. She may have to deal with the consequences of revealing her personal information to scammers and hackers in the months to come.
The Office of Attorney General Hector Balderas employs advocates to help consumers who encounter scams, faulty products and broken promises. Those who think they may have been scammed can file a complaint at the Attorney General's website at www.nmag.gov or call 717-3500 in Albuquerque, 490-4060 in Santa Fe, or toll-free statewide 1-844-255-9210.