SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Marshals Service in Utah is warning about telephone scam where con artists are spoofing the office’s number to trick people into sending money.
“This tactic is known as neighbor spoofing, where scammers using technology to modify what number appears on your caller ID to impersonate phone numbers from friends, local businesses, and in our case, law enforcement, to appear legit,” said U.S. Marshal Matthew Harris.
During the calls, scammers attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses. 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 pay the fine.
The callers use many tactics to sound credible, including providing badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges and courthouse addresses.
The agency is receiving hundreds of calls from people nationwide wondering why the marshals are seeking money from them, Harris said.
U.S. marshals will never ask for credit or debit card or gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers for any purpose.
The marshals are urging people to report the calls to the FBI and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which has the ability to detect patterns of fraud and share that information with law enforcement.
The Utah State Courts say someone claiming to be an FBI agent is spoofing the main number of the West Jordan courthouse. The scammer calls people saying they are persons of interest in a disappearance case, that they need to take a survey and must pay a sum of money to keep the answers confidential.
The courts will never threaten a person over the phone with arrest, or ask to pay fines or fees using pre-paid gift cards, or wire transfer, according to spokesman Geoff Fattah.