Alabama’s Middle District elderly population is being targeted in a cell phone call scam according to U.S. Attorney George Beck. Beck and U.S. Marshal Thomas Hession said that the criminals are calling victims under the premise that they failed to appear for a court appearance or federal jury duty. The victims are told that the only way that they can avoid being arrested is to provide a payment over the phone.
The suspects go so far as to stay on the phone with the victims while they purchase a prepaid debit card and provide the information to the caller. Callers have demanded anywhere from hundreds to several thousands of dollars in fines. “They mention they are with the Marshal’s Office, then they give them a series of badge numbers,” said Hession. He went on to say that the callers tell the victims that a warrant will be issued for their arrest unless they immediately pay the fine.
Hession said that several elderly victims have come forward since the scam first gained attention. He added that many of the victims were on a fixed income and the crime is being taken very seriously. The scammers are using advanced technology that indicates the call is coming from a government agency but investigators still don’t know if the calls are being initialized within the United States.
Beck warned Alabama residents not to take these calls seriously, saying that the government will only contact citizens by mail in the case of jury duty and never by phone. He also said that the government would not threaten anyone for missing jury duty.
Senior citizens are typically targeted for crimes because Beck said that they are trusting. “..we are going to have to learn to be on guard. Not everyone out there has our best interest at heart,” said Beck.