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U.S. Marshals, FBI: imposter scams taking hold

The U.S. Marshals and the FBI are alerting the public of several nationwide imposter scams involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.

They are urging people to report the calls to their local FBI office and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which has the ability to detect patterns of fraud from the information collected and share that data with law enforcement.

During these calls, scammers attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses. They then tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card such as a Green Dot card or gift card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.

Scammers use many tactics to sound credible. They sometimes provide information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they are calling from the court or a government agency.

“If you believe you were a victim of such a scam, you are encouraged to report the incident to your local FBI office and to the FTC,” authorities said in a written statement June 1.

Things to remember:

■ U.S. Marshals will never ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers for any purpose.

■ Don’t divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.

■ Report scam phone calls to your local FBI office and to the FTC.

■ You can remain anonymous when you report.

Authenticate the call by calling the clerk of the court’s office of the U.S. District Court in the area and verify the court order given by the caller.

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