Let us say you are a contractor who has experience with Department of Transportation regulations. Your name came up in connection with a pretexting scheme that is under investigation.
Federal authorities want to question you about this scheme. They want to know more about your company and what you do. Meanwhile, what you want is to seek legal consultation.
An individual who engages in pretexting has done some research on a particular victim. He will have some sort of personal information, such as a phone number. He will call the victim and try to elicit further personal information, such as a credit card or social security number. He will give a business name and say that the company needs this information for their files.
Social engineering is similar
Like pretexting, social engineering is the scheme of deceiving people to the extent that they give out personal information. These schemers convince their victims that they represent a legitimate company. An example of this is a letter that has been faxed repeatedly to various contractors. The letter appears to be from the Department of Transportation; the message is on DOT letterhead bearing a Washington, D.C., address. The letter requests bank account information on a form headed “Authorization to Release Financial Information.” To make it look more official, the person signing the letter will add a title, such as “Senior Procurement Officer.”
Why the DOT letter is suspicious
The Department of Transportation does indeed have procurement officers, but they will only ask for financial information on specific contracts that have already been awarded. Furthermore, as someone familiar with the Department of Transportation, you probably know there will be plenty of contact information on any authentic written or faxed DOT communications.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you that both the federal government and New York State have increased the penalties for crimes such as pretexting in which perpetrators use stolen personal identification. If you are implicated in an identity theft scheme, be sure you have legal support before you answer any questions put to you by the authorities.