FBI warns red light camera scam targeting teens

A warning for parents with teen drivers. The FBI wants you to know that scammers are now targeting teenagers and using scare tactics to essentially extort money from them.

When your child gets a driver's license, you worry about all sorts of things. Now there's one more thing to worry about.

Scammers are now calling teenagers claiming to be police, telling teens they were caught breaking the law.

FBI Special Agent Scott Augenbaum told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, ABC15's sister station in Nashville, the caller might say something like this, "'The other day, your car went through a red light camera. We tried to contact you. And, as a new driver, you are going to go to jail or your license will be taken away unless you pay the fine of $250.'"

Augenbaum said the red light camera scam is a lot like the jury duty and IRS scams that have been around a while. Only here, the victims are a lot younger.

"I had the same incident happen to my niece who called me up hysterically crying," the longtime agent shared.

He explained that teens make it easy for scam artists because they tend to put a lot of personal information including their cell phone number on social media. It's not hard then for a scammer to call a teen and scare them into sending money.

"For the young driver, after having their parents yell at them so many times saying, 'If you go through a red light, I'm going to take your license away,' they're going to take their money that they've earned all summer and try to pay that fine, not realizing that it's a scam," Augenbaum stated.

The scammers usually will tell the teens to go to a Walmart and buy a green dot card which is like a pre-paid visa card and can be used to quickly transfer money.

"And once the bad guys get it, it's untraceable," the FBI agent said.

Security experts say the best thing you can do is sit down with your teen and make sure they know that the police will never call them about a ticket. If they do get a call like this, it's best to just hang up. A good way to prevent this sort of thing in the first place is don't answer calls from people or numbers you don't know.

So far no incidents have been reported in Arizona, but parents should talk to their teenagers about the risks as a precaution.

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