The U.S. Marshal’s Office in the Western District of Missouri put out an alert Thursday afternoon of an imposter phone scam where authorities said con artists are using official phone numbers to trick people into sending money.
The tactic, known as spoofing, involves scammers using technology to modify what number appears on the victim’s caller ID. Recently, many of these frauds involved the use of U.S. marshals’ official phone numbers.
According to authorities, during many of 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.
“These are not victimless crimes, and many people have lost thousands of dollars to these con artists,” U.S. Marshal Mark James said in a press release. “The public should know that the U.S. Marshals will never ask for personal information such as a credit/debit or gift card number, or a bank routing number.”
The U.S. Marshals Service is urging people to report these calls to their local FBI office, fbi.gov/contact-us, and to file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. The FTC has the ability to detect patterns of fraud from the information collected, and share that data with law enforcement.