By: Bridget Small
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
United States Marshals protect the federal courts, track down dangerous fugitives, and transport thousands of prisoners. They don’t make calls and threaten to arrest people or fine them for missing jury duty. But scammers posing as Marshals have been making calls like that and tricking people into sending money. The imposters use spoofed phone numbers that look official, and steal the names and badge numbers of legitimate law enforcement officials. They warn people they might be arrested — unless they buy a prepaid debit, iTunes or gift card and pay the fine immediately. If you buy a card and tell a scammer the card’s code, the scammer takes the card’s value; your money is gone. If a “U.S. Marshal” calls you with a jury duty warning, hang up. It’s a scam.
If a fake Marshal — or any other government imposter — calls and tells you to send money to avoid arrest:
- Don’t send money by prepaid card and don’t wire money. Wiring money is like sending cash. You usually can’t reverse or trace the transaction.
- Don’t share your financial or personal information. Scammers can use your information to commit identity theft.
- Don’t trust a name or number that appears on your phone. Scammers can fake caller ID information.
If you received a call like this, please report it to the FTC and to your local Marshals Service District Office. If you sent money to an imposter on a prepaid card, report it to the card company’s fraud department. Read more about the tricks government imposters use and how to beat their scams.