Scammers are posing as U.S. Marshals from Philadelphia to trick people into paying over the phone to avoid arrest, authorities said Friday.
The U.S. Marshals in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania warned the public that con artists are “spoofing” the district office’s real phone number to do the scam. Spoofing is when a caller sends false information to a recipient’s caller ID display to disguise the identity of the caller, making calls appear to come from local numbers, legitimate businesses, or in this case, law enforcement.
During the calls, scammers try to collect fines in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses, the U.S. Marshals said in a news release. The criminals tell victims that they can avoid arrest by buying a prepaid debit card or a gift card and read the card number over the phone to pay the fine.
“U.S. Marshals do not telephonhically solicit personally identifiable information and associated monetary account information for any purpose, to include the payment of fines,” U.S. Marshal Eric Gartner of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “Scammers use many tactics to sound credible. These tactics include providing information such as badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses.”
Anyone who believes they are a victim of the scam should contact their local FBI office and the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Marshals said.
The U.S. Marshals said they will never ask for credit, debit, or gift card numbers, or wire transfers and bank account information for any purpose. If a scammer provides a court order, consumers can verify the call by calling the clerk of the court’s office of the U.S. District Court in their area and confirm the court order.