US Marshals ask people to report phone scams to FTC

MGN Online

The U.S. Marshals Service is asking people to report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission in the hopes federal regulators can find a pattern.

Nathan Powell, spokesman for the Marshals Service, said in a statement that authorities have learned about nationwide scams in which callers pretend to be marshals, court officers or some other type of law enforcement officer.

The scammers often try to collect a fine in place of an arrest for failing to report for jury duty, he said in the statement. Victims are told they can buy a prepaid debit card or gift card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.

The FTC can detect patterns of fraud from information it collects, Powell said, and that data can be shared with law enforcement.

The U.S. Marshals Service does not ask for card numbers, bank routing numbers or any wire transfers for any purpose, he said.

People are warned that scammers can try to sound credible by providing badge numbers, real addresses or real names. They might also "spoof" their phone so a government agency appears on caller ID.

"While these callers may sound legitimate, we urge people to question their validity," Powell said in his statement. "The easiest way to do this is to call the clerk of the court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area and verify the court order. If an order does not exist, someone just tried to swindle you out of your hard-earned cash."

Scams can be reported to a local Marshals Service office or to the FTC.

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