U.S. Marshals, FBI Urging Floridians To Report Phone Scams

The U.S. Marshals and the FBI are alerting the public of several nationwide imposter scams involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.
Report the calls to their Local FBI office and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, Source: US Marshals

The U.S. Marshals and the FBI are alerting the public of several nationwide imposter scams involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.

They are urging people to report the calls to their Local FBI office and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which has the ability to detect patterns of fraud from the information collected and share that data with law enforcement.

During these calls, scammers attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest due to a claim of identity theft, failing to report for jury duty, or other offenses.

They then tell victims they can avoid arrest by withdrawing cash and transferring it to the government, 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, or by depositing cash into bitcoin ATMs.

Scammers use many tactics to sound and appear credible. 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 IDs as if they are calling from a government agency or the court.

One of the most recent scams works like this:  Someone impersonating a Customs and Border Protection officer calls the potential victim stating CBP has acquired packages containing illegal substances sent from Mexico and Colombia that are addressed to the victim. 

Additionally, the victim is told some of the packages are addressed to two locations in El Paso, Texas, which are also deeded to the victim. The scammer then proceeds to tell the victim that multiple bank accounts in the victim’s name with Bank of America, Chase, TD Ameritrade, and Wells Fargo indicate the victim is wiring money to Mexico and Colombia.

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The scammer then provides identity-confirming information to the victim by reading old residential addresses, phone numbers, and other personally identifying information that seem to make their claims legitimate.

The scammer then provides his personal ID# A40922, case number #DMC701029 for the investigation, and warrant number #024069798, and then notifies the victim that the State of Texas is investigating this illegal activity.

They are then told the State of Texas is holding the victim responsible unless the victim can prove the criminal activity associated with them is the result of identity theft. The call then ends with the scammer advising the victim that they will be recontacted by an investigating official.

A short time later, the victim is contacted by another individual identifying himself as a United States Marshal who is looking into the case.  The scammer reviews the previous conversation the victim had with the scammer posing as a CBP official, and tells the victim there are two ways to resolve the issue: 1) hire a criminal lawyer to represent the victim in front of a court in Texas. 

Through the court process, the victim will either be exonerated or convicted. 

The scammer instructs the victim to send a photo of their driver’s license to a phone number provided by the scammer.  The victim is then instructed to send the QR code scanned at the Bitcoin deposit kiosks.

There have been many victims with losses in the tens of thousands of dollars. 

The U.S. Marshals Service receives inquiries daily from victims and potential victims of these scams.

“These calls can appear very legitimate but one big giveaway is that the U.S. Marshals Service nor the courts would never ask you for a credit card or any other financial currency or any financial information over the phone. Even if you didn’t fall prey to a scam attempt, please report these incidents to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission. The few minutes you take to report the call could prevent another person from becoming a victim.” Bill Berger, United States Marshal, Middle District of Florida.

If you believe you were a victim of such a scam, you are encouraged to report the incident to your local FBI office and to the FTC.

Things to remember:

  • The U.S. Marshals Service WILL NEVER ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers, or to make bitcoin deposits for any purpose.
  • NEVER divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
  • Report scam phone calls to your local FBI 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.

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