Fake HHS OIG phone scam targets thousands

Thousands of Americans have been hit by a scam involving the HHS Office of the Inspector General's telephone number, according to an HHS blog post.

Officials said the HHS OIG hotline for reporting fraud, 1-800-HHS-TIPS, has been "spoofed" — "a malicious practice of making a phone number appear on caller ID to be legitimate in order to obtain confidential information," according to the post.

These calls, which appear to be from the HHS OIG hotline, typically tell respondents they will receive "government grant money," before requesting personal or financial information, such as a Social Security or bank account number. The callers also ask respondents to wire payment for "processing fees."

OIG immediately launched an investigation upon first learning about this scam in February, working with the FBI and other inspector general offices. A criminal case is underway and two people are under investigation, according to the post.

HHS OIG emphasized the federal government does not call unsolicited and that the OIG hotline is never used to make outgoing calls. Thomas O'Donnell, assistant inspector general for investigations at HHS, also stressed the government does not sell grants.

Click here to view the blog post.

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