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Hundreds of victims across the nation affected by Virginia man's phone scams

Victims were told that they would need to purchase a gift card to stay out of jail or to fix their computer accounts.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A 26-year-old man has been arrested in Fairfax County after conning people across the nation out of money through phone scams, allowing him to purchase $500,000 worth of gift cards. 

Jiale Li of Blacksburg was arrested on Sept. 1 after an investigation revealed that he was involved in a phone scam operation where group members would pose as representatives at the Internal Revenue Services, Social Security Administration, Microsoft or the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

He has been charged with three counts of obtaining money by false pretense and money laundering. He is currently being held without bond.

Victims were told that they would need to purchase a gift card to stay out of jail or to fix their accounts. Li then used the gift cards to purchase $500,000 worth of gift cards and proceeded to sell them at a discounted rate to turn a profit. 

At the time of his arrest, Li was in possession of more than $176,000 in laundered gift cards, according to detectives.

The department released the following tips for the public regarding phone scams:

• Ask yourself, does this seem legitimate?

• Scammers often make their caller ID appear real to try and trick you.

• If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a law enforcement agency telling you there is a warrant out for your arrest and demands payment to resolve the warrant, STOP!

• Federal and local law enforcement departments will not ask you for money or payment in the form of gift cards to avoid arrest.

• When in doubt, do not provide any form of payment and find a way to contact the company directly.

• If someone calls you offering tech support or claiming your computer has a virus, hang up.

• If they are asking for payment with gift cards of any kind, it is likely a scam.

• If you believe you or a loved one have been scammed, file a report with our Financial Crimes Online Reporting (FiCOR) system

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