The US Marshals Service is warning the public about a new phone scam that’s conning local residents by impersonating as the sheriff’s office and claiming that Marshall federal judge, Rodney Gilstrap, has issued a warrant for the resident’s arrest.

“On Friday, September 8th, the U.S. Courthouse in Marshall, Texas was notified of a phone scam involving a Marshall resident,” Deputy US Marshal Justin Pierce informed. “The unknown caller stated that he was employed with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office. The caller told the victim that she had failed to appear for jury selection during the month of June and Judge Gilstrap had issued a warrant for her arrest.

“These scams have surfaced in the Marshall area before but the call last Friday was the first report I have received where the caller used the name of Chief Judge Gilstrap who is the presiding U.S. District Court Judge in Marshall,” Pierce said.

The US Marshals and the FBI are urging people to report such imposter scams to their local FBI office, which can be found online at www.fbi.gov/contact-us, and to also file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which has the ability to detect patterns of fraud from the information collected and share the data with law enforcement.

“During these calls, scammers attempt to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses,” US Marshals officials informed. “They then tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card such as a Green Dot card or gift card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.

The US Marshals Service warns that the scammers use many tactics to sound credible.

“They sometimes provide information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses,” officials said. “They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they are calling from the court or a government agency.”

To avoid being a target, the US Marshals Service reminds the public that:

  • US Marshals will never ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers or bank routing numbers for any purpose;
  • Don’t divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers;
  • Report scamp phone calls to your local FBI office and to the FTC;
  • You can remain anonymous when you report
  • Authenticate the call by calling the clerk of the court’s office of the US District Court in your area and verify the court order given by the caller.