Granite State residents have been scammed out of nearly $90,000 by callers claiming they are from the FBI or other government agencies, federal officials said.

The FBI Boston Division reports seeing an increase in scammers targeting New Englanders through unsolicited telephone calls in which the caller claims to be a representative of a government agency, including the FBI.

According to federal officials, the scam involves a caller claiming they are with a government body and telling the recipient of the call that charges have been, or soon will be, filed against them, and threatens to confiscate the recipient’s property, freeze their bank accounts, or have them arrested unless payment is made immediately.

If the recipient questions the caller, the caller becomes more aggressive.

The recipients are told it will cost thousands of dollars in fees or court costs to resolve the matter, and the caller typically instructs people to wire “settlement” money or provide payment via prepaid cards or gift cards to avoid arrest.

According to the FBI Boston Division, 38 victims in New Hampshire reported losing $89,382 in this scam.

Forty-four victims in Maine reported losing $32,252, while another 270 victims in Massachusetts reported financial losses of $3.2 million. Fifty-three victims in Rhode Island lost approximately $412,878.

“Nobody wants to be the subject of a law enforcement investigation, and scammers are using that to their advantage to try and intimidate people into just handing over their hard-earned money. We’re asking you not to fall for it,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division.

“It’s important to resist the urge to act immediately and verify who is actually contacting you.”

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), 12,827 people reported being victims of government impersonation scams in 2020, with losses totaling $109,938,030. In the Boston Division, which includes Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, 405 complaints were filed with losses totaling $3,789,407, according to the FBI.

The FBI said federal agencies “do not call or email individuals threatening arrest or demanding money.”

If that does happen, and if it comes from an FBI or some agency phone number, “hang up immediately and report the call.”

Members of the public seeking to confirm that they have been contacted by an FBI employee can call the FBI Boston Division at 857-386-2000 and ask to be connected directly.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at pfeely@unionleader.com