Defenders Report: Scammers impersonate federal agents in grand jury scheme

Here are some quick facts to protect against this phone scam. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Here are some quick facts to protect against this phone scam. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The callers sound like they're with the United States Marshals Service and their documents look authentic, but U.S. Marshall Jesse Seyorer says they're not working for him.

"It's very frustrating, and we are concerned about it," Seyorer stated.

It's called the federal grand jury scheme. It's hit central Alabama before, but this time it's back with a vengeance.

Here's how it works: the scammers call the victims, posing as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, explaining the victim missed their summons for federal grand jury, and there's a warrant out for their arrest. To further build their claim, the scammers will email the victims replicas of official court documents.

"If you aren't familiar with it, it would appear to be legitimate information," explained Seyorer.

The scammers work to keep the victim on the phone, as they talk them through the documents. Then they ask the victim to go to a store that sells prepaid or green dot cards, load hundreds of dollars, and give them the number. At that point, they have the victim's money, and it's untraceable.

"They are impersonating a federal agency, and it's not right," Seyorer stated. "They are taking full advantage of victims that have no knowledge of what to look for."

This is why Seyorer is working to put all citizens on alert. Furthermore, he wants to make sure the public knows this isn't how the U.S. Marshals Service does business.

"We will never call you over the phone about paying money," stated Seyorer, as the Marshals Service doesn't collect court fines. "We will never contact you about a warrant against you; we will show up at your door with an arrest warrant."

U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin has also seen the documents, and warns the public to be vigilant.

"It has the appearance of authenticity, but it is a fraud," stated Franklin.

Franklin says he will use the full resources of the U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute those responsible.

"Wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, there are a number of charges for people that are engaged in this criminal behavior," he explained.

Seyorer says there's only one way to handle these scammers: "You should hang up."

If you have fallen victim to this scam, the U.S. Marshals Service needs to hear from you. They ask anyone who has received a call to contact their office at 334-223-3100.

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