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HAMMOND — The U.S. Marshals Service issued a warning Friday about imposter scams involving people claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers or other law enforcement officials.

Anyone who receives a phone call as part of an imposter scam or falls victim to scammers should report it to their local U.S. Marshals office and the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC can detect patterns of fraud from information collected and share data with law enforcement, the Marshals Service said. The Marshals Service hopes this can lead to arrests.

People have lost thousands of dollars to these scams, which can be particularly devastating during the holiday season, said Pamela Mozdzierz, supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal.

During these 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 satisfy the fine.

Scammers use many tactics to sound 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 ID as if they are calling from the court or a government agency.

The Marshals Service would never ask for credit card, debit card or gift card numbers, wire transfers or bank routing numbers for any purpose, according to a news release. Callers should never divulge personal or financial information to unknown people.

Court orders can be verified by calling a county clerk of court's office or U.S. District Court.

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