PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There’s a new scam in which con-artists are impersonating official government phone numbers to call people in the area and trick them into sending money.
Local U.S. Marshals are hoping to get the word out to save people from losing thousands of dollars.
So, here’s how it works. A person receives a robocall from what appears to be the official U.S. Marshals Service’s phone number.
During these calls, the scammer will attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses.
They tell victims they can avoid the arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card or gift card and reading the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.
“If they’re successful they may have information on the person already that they can get online,” said Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Marshal Eric Gartner.
Gartner says federal agencies will never ever ask for your credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank account information over the phone. So, if you get one of those phone calls, he says ignore them.
“Don’t engage them in conversation,” Gartner said. “Simply hang up and, if you can, get the spoof number that they were using and then inform the local FBI office and the Federal Trade Commission of that incident.”
Gartner says elders are at the highest risk for these types of scams, so be on alert.