The U.S. Marshal's Service is warning of a phone scam in Maine that attempts to collect fines in lieu of arrest for things like missed jury duty.

According to a post on the U.S. Marshal's website, the scammers are claiming to be from their office, court officers, or other law enforcement officials. The callers tell the potential victim that they've failed to show up for jury duty or committed other offenses, and can avoid arrest if they pay a fine. They instruct the person that they can pay the fine by purchasing a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot card or gift card, and read the card number over the phone.

The U.S. Marshal's Office says they will never ask for credit/debit/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers for any purpose. They offer an important reminder to never divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.

Officials say the scammers use many tactics to sound credible, including providing information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. In addition, they may 'spoof' their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they're actually calling from the court of a government agency.

Anyone receiving one of these calls should hang up and then report the calls not only to their local U.S. Marshal's Service office, but also the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has the ability to detect patterns of fraud from the information given to them and share it with local law enforcement.  If you're concerned about whether the call was genuine, authenticate it (or debunk it) by calling the clerk of the court's office for your local U.S. District Court.

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