#AskAnAgent: How do you protect yourself from confidence fraud?

The FBI isn't just black sedans and black suits. They're not just solving serial killers or bank robberies. They do more - including trying to protect you.

FOX 2 has a new project with the FBI where we're going to ask them, whatever YOU want. Within reason. We can't ask about open cases - so no questions about Jimmy Hoffa. But we can (and hopefully will) talk about anything you're interested in. 

So what does the FBI do beyond looking cool in sweet sedans? Well, for one thing they're fighting fraud and scams. 

In our first edition of #AskAnAgent, we talked all about scams and what to look out for - specifically it's called confidence fraud. 

FBI agent Reuben Coleman is an expert on scams and frad and explained to us that confidence fraud is where the victim is deceived or tricked into believing they have a trusting relationship with the person committing the crime. Whether that's family, friends, or even romance - a victim thinks they're helping someone they know. 

As a result, the victim is persuaded to: 

1. Send money
2. Send items of value to the perpetrator (like gift cards or even money)
3. Launder money on behalf of the perpetrator (victim is sent a check to deposit and then is asked to send the money along to a third party)

How do you avoid becoming a victim?

1. Resist the urge to act immediately
2. Try to contact friend or family member to determine whether the call is legitimate
3. Get the name of the agency the call is purportedly coming from and call that agency directly (Note: law enforcement agencies typically do not call requesting money for any reason)
4. DO NOT wire money, buy gift cards or send a cashier's check in response to a request for money made over the telephone or via email - using those methods make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get the money back

If you suspect you are the victim of a scam: 

1. Stop all contact immediately
2. Immediately report any transfer of funds to your financial institution
3. File a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)
4. Contact your local FBI office or other law enforcement agency