COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – The U.S. Marshals in the District of South Carolina are alerting the public of a phone scam where con artists are spoofing the district office’s real number to trick people into sending money.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, during these calls, scammers attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to attend jury duty or other offenses. They then tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card such as Green Dot or a gift card and read the card number over the phone to pay the fine.
Scammers use many different tactics to sound credible. They provide information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges and courthouse addresses.
U.S. Marshal Griffin said that these kinds of phone scams are often coordinated by people who are currently incarcerated in the state prison system. Offenders rely on contraband cell phones, and the proceeds are often used to support gang initiatives.
Things to remember to avoid falling victim to a scam:
- U.S. Marshals will never ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers for any purpose
- Don’t share personal or financial information with unknown callers
- If the scammer provides a court order, authenticate it 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
Anyone who has received one of these calls is encouraged to report it to their local FBI office and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Reports can be anonymous.