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November 08, 2017

FBI warns of phone scam targeting Philadelphia region

The FBI and other federal authorities are warning  of a phone scam designed to fleece unsuspecting residents in the Philadelphia region.

According to FBI divisions in Philly and Newark as well as the U.S. Marshals Service for the District of New Jersey, perpetrators are impersonating law enforcement or court officials.

The scammers, who call people and tell them they’re with the U.S. Marshals Service, county sheriff’s department, or another law enforcement agency, then accuse that person of failing to appear for federal or local jury duty. They warn that an arrest warrant has been issued.

The intended victim is told that he or she must pay a fine, then report to court. To settle the fine, the victims are instructed to buy a prepaid debit card and provide the scammers with the card information.

Authorities said reports indicate these scammers have been targeting New Jersey residents most recently; the “jury duty” scam in other forms also has been documented in numerous other states.

To avoid becoming the victim of the scam, the following tips are offered by authorities:

• Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls

• Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact

• Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller pressures you, or says things that don’t sound right, hang up

• If concerns remain about the caller’s claims, verify the information with the appropriate law enforcement agency or court officials

Victims of phone or online scams can file a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.