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Thursday, February 8, 2024

If you are called by someone who says there is a warrant for your arrest related to missed federal jury duty, subpoena or other offenses, do not make any payments to them. Neither the U.S. Marshals Service, nor the U.S. District Court, will ever call to request payment of fines over the phone.

Instead report the call to your local FBI office and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The FTC has the ability to detect larger patterns of fraud and share that data with law enforcement.

The fraudulent caller may identify themselves as an officer with local law enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service or federal judge. They may instruct you to wire money or purchase prepaid debit cards, such as a Green Dot card or gift card, and read the card numbers over the phone to pay your fines in order to avoid arrest. They may instruct you to make a payment at a Bitcoin ATM by depositing cash, using your debit or credit card, or scanning a QR code at the ATM.

The caller may use a variety of tactics to sound credible.  They may instruct you to mail the prepaid cards to a specific judge or to report to your local courthouse with the prepaid debit cards.  They may provide information like badge numbers, case numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials, public servants, and federal judges.  They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on Caller ID as if they are calling from a courthouse or a government agency like the U.S. Marshals Service.

You can get help determining the authenticity of a call by contacting the Seattle Clerk's Office at 206-370-8400 or Tacoma Clerk's Office at 253-882-3800.

More information about this type of fraudulent activity can be found on the U.S. Courts national site and in the press release from the U.S. Marshals Service.

See KOMO News, a local Seattle news outlet, coverage of this scam here.

Please also see the Joint News Release put out by the FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. District Court, U.S. Marshal's Service, the IRS, and the Yakima Police Department.