U.S. Marshals Service warning of scam

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WDTV) -- The U.S. Marshals Service is warning Americans of several imposter scams taking place around the country.

According to officials, the scams involve the callers claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials and wanting to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to show up to jury duty or another offense. The scammers will say that arrest can be avoided by purchasing a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot card or gift card and read the card number over the phone to pay for the fine.

The U.S. Marshals Service says data provided by the Federal Trade Commission shows victims have lost thousands of dollars from the scams. They say the scams are especially bad during the holiday season.

Officials say some scammers will go to great lengths to sound legitimate and will provide badge numbers, names of local officials and courthouse addresses. They may also spoof the phone number to seem like they are calling from a court or government agency.

The U.S. Marshals Service gives the following tips to avoid becoming a victim for one of the scams:

• 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.

If you believe you were a victim of the scam, you are asked to report it to both the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Trade Commission and can do so anonymously. Officials say they hope the information collected by the FTC will lead to possible arrests.