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The U.S. Marshals are warning people of several nationwide phone scams in which scam artists are claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials and asking anyone who receives such calls to report them.

The phone scams involve scammers attempting to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or a host of other offenses. The scammers try to encourage the victims to 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.

“The U.S. Marshals would never ask for a credit/debit or gift card number or banking routing numbers or ask for funds to be wired for any purpose,” U.S. Marshal Kelvin Washington stated in a news release. “If the caller is urging you to provide this type of information or any other personal or financial information, hang up and report the call to the Marshals and the FTC. You can even report to both agencies anonymously.”

Washington said scammers use many tactics to sound official, including providing badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. The scammers may also “spoof” their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as those of a government agency.

“While these callers may sound legitimate, we urge people to question their validity,” Washington stated. “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.”

Washington said people who receive these calls to report them to their local U.S. Marshals Service office and the Federal Trade Commission, which can detect patterns of fraud from the information collected and share that data with law enforcement.

The U.S. Marshals hope the information collected by the FTC will lead to eventual arrests.

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. Do not divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers. Report scam phone calls to your local U.S. Marshals Service 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 your area and verify the court order given by the caller.MORE NEWS: TSA has new security checkpoint rules ahead of holiday travel season

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