ALBUQUERQUE ― Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a new Scam Alert urging consumers to beware of scammers impersonating elected officials, particularly in online messages.
The alert is issued in response to a complaint received by the Attorney General from Sen. Martin Heinrich. In this instance, a consumer received messages via Facebook Messenger that appeared to be sent by Heinrich, soliciting consumer information, in exchange for a bogus grant, even though the senator had nothing to do with the texts.
“The fact that an unknown person or entity sends you a text, makes a phone call to you or sends you an online message does not mean you should give them any personal information,” Balderas said. “If you did not begin communicating with a person or business yourself, you have no way to know whether you have reached a real person or enterprise—let alone whether the services, grants or other products mentioned are worth having. Scammers and robots constantly attempt to communicate with unwitting consumers, trying to get into the consumer’s bank account. They can appear to be real, or even–as in the case of Senator Heinrich– official, but they cannot be trusted.”
“New Mexicans must always be vigilant online and on social media platforms. Constituents should know that my official office will not solicit personal or financial information from anyone. I encourage anyone who receives suspicious or unsolicited communication to immediately contact my office or the Office of the Attorney General,” Heinrich said.
Clues that the texts were part of a scam solicitation included poor grammar and misspellings throughout the messages. However, each of the messages included a photograph of the Senator and therefore could have appeared genuine—at least at first glance.
The messages offered the consumer information on an $80,000 grant the Senator purportedly considered awarding to the consumer. As in most scams, though, the scammer soon asked the consumer to reveal personal information in order to get more details about the “grant.” Further, the consumer was advised to keep the solicitation and potential of the “grant” a secret. Luckily, the consumer became suspicious and ended the text communication. If he had gone further, he could have exposed himself to identity theft and financial consequences.
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 (505).717.3500 in Albuquerque, (505).490.4060 in Santa Fe, or toll-free statewide 1.844.255.9210.