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HAMMOND — Con artists are impersonating law enforcement, official agencies, friends and local businesses demanding money, the U.S. Marshals Service has warned.

Known as a “neighbor spoofing” or the impostor scam, the caller impersonates someone else to either get financial information or to receive a payment from the victim, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release.

“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 legitimate” U.S. Marshal Todd Nukes said. “While these callers may sound legitimate, we urge people to question their validity. The easiest way to do this is to call the U.S. District Court clerk’s office in your area.”

In the calls, scammers try to collect a fine in lieu of an arrest in consequence for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses. They typically tell those they're targeting they can avoid being arrested if they purchase a prepaid debit card and read the card number over the phone.

While their request may seem suspicious, scammers fake credibility by providing badge numbers, names of law enforcement officials, names of judges and local court house addresses.

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If someone receives a suspicious call, Nukes urged them to call their local FBI office or to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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U.S. Marshals said the office will never ask for wire transfers, bank information or debit card numbers over the phone. If someone suspects a scam caller, they can also call their local U.S. District Court clerk's office to verify the information.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.