Phone scammers say pay fine or be arrested

SEATTLE — Scammers claiming to be U.S. marshals have been calling people and telling them they need to pay a fine for outstanding warrants or be arrested, according to the U.S. Marshals Service in the Western District of Washington.

Marshals said if you’re called by someone claiming you have an arrest warrant related to missed federal jury duty, subpoena or other offenses, you should not make payments to them.

During the calls, scammers try to collect a fine by asking the victim to do a wire transfer of funds or to purchase prepaid debit cards, such as a Green Dot card or gift card, and read the card numbers over the phone.

The caller may use a variety of tactics to sound official and may identify themselves as a deputy U.S. marshal, law enforcement official, court officer or a federal judge. They also may provide badge numbers, case numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials, public servants and federal judges.

The number that shows on caller ID may appear that the scammer is calling from a courthouse or a government agency such as the U.S. Marshals Service.

The U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. District Court will never call to ask for payment of fines over the phone.

If you need help determining if a call is authentic, you can call the U.S. Marshals Service at 206-370-8600. U.S. District Court case information can be verified by calling Seattle Clerk’s Office at 206-370-8400 or Tacoma Clerk’s Office at 253-882-3800.

Anyone who thinks they were the victim of a scam should report it to their local FBI office and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which can detect patterns of fraud.