A Denison man was taken for $2,000 in connection with a series of ongoing phone scams that the U.S. Marshals Service said have targeted victims nationwide and include false identifications, threats of arrest and demands for payment.
In an emailed release distributed Friday, the Marshals Service said callers may pose as deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service, court officers and other law enforcement officials.
“During these calls, scammers attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses,” the statement said. “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.”
Lt. Mike Eppler said the Denison man who fell victim to the scam reported many of the same hallmarks.
“The guy said that the caller claimed to be a deputy of the U.S. Marshals and that he had missed a grand jury summons and had to pay money or else he’d get arrested,” Eppler said.
Eppler said the 36-year-old man was told that he needed to pay nearly $3,000, but agreed to purchase Green Dot cards totaling $2,000 and relayed the card numbers to the caller. He added that it was unlikely the man would be able to recover his money.
Both Eppler and the Marshals Service release indicated that such calls are often very convincing.
“Scammers use many tactics to sound credible,” the release said. “They sometimes provide information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they are calling from the court or a government agency.”
According to the release, the Marshals Service said it will never ask for payment card numbers, wire transfers or bank account routing numbers for any purpose. Those who believe they have received a phone call related to the scam are asked to notify their local U.S. Marshals Service office and the Federal Trade Commission and may do so anonymously. The Federal Trade Commission is able to detect patterns of fraud and shares related data with law enforcement, which may be used to secure future arrests.
Eppler encouraged members of the public to remain aware of the scam and not to divulge personal or financial information.
“If anything sounds suspicious, if it catches your attention in that way where it doesn’t sound like it’s proper, then do not divulge any of your personal information and do not send any of your money,” Eppler said. “Only do so if you can absolutely confirm that these people are who they say they are.”