Tis the season for the holiday cheer again. Along with all the shopping and Christmas excitement comes forth the warnings from the United States Marshals to beware of impersonators from the social security offices looking to scam the public.
Calls have been going around where the person on the other end of the phone is threatening people to pay up or face the consequences of a U.S. Marshal coming to break down their doors.
Scams are growing in numbers, especially during the holiday season, where the impersonator is claiming identity theft has occurred and trying to force the person to take all their money out of the bank to fix the problem.
ABC News covered a story where a man from the state of Washington almost fell for the scam and handed over $100,000. It would have been a catastrophe because that was the man’s life savings from his business account.
The man who received the phone call wished to remain anonymous explained what happened. Someone called him claiming to be from the Social Security Administration and told him a rented vehicle was found in Texas and had drugs inside.
They told him the car was rented under his name, and his identity was stolen. The impersonator continued to say to the man he would be found guilty of “very serious charges.” The fake officer gave him a phony badge and a false claim number.
The man continued to tell ABC News, “He [then] asked me to go to the bank and withdraw my funds because of this fraudulent activity under my Social Security number. He said anything. All accounts under that Social Security number are going to be seized.” He was then passed on to a “supervisor” and told him if he were to end the call, the U.S. Marshals would come and get him.
He continued to explain, “He told me to put my phone in my pocket and go into the bank or withdraw all my funds. And in which time I did, and now I’ve got my life savings in front of me, and it’s out of the bank; it’s signed out of the bank.” The man told his sister and the bank teller who then called the U.S. Marshal’s office, and it was then they found out it was all a scam.
ABC News interviewed Kaitlin Kent, who is the Chief Inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service, while following the story. She stated, “We’re getting a ton of calls on these scams and whether they’re saying they’re U.S. Marshals, whether they’re saying they’re Social Security, but U.S. Marshals are going to come get them, it does seem to be an underlying theme that they bring us up in the call.”
The man who received the phone call is still shaken up and was surprised at how real the scammers made the phone call out to be. He said, “Just the way he went into this information and the depth of it. I believed it. Even I told them a couple times on the phone, like, I’m about to fall apart here because I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never been to Texas. I’m not involved in this anyway. And he got me just hook, line and sinker.” He stated he asked them how he would send the money, and they told him, “We’ll talk about that later.”
Monica Vaca of the Division of Consumer Response and Operation at the FTC said, “The Social Security imposter scam is very widespread right now. What these scammers are trying to do is induce a state of fear. They are trying to make you feel very, very panicked.”
Kent explained, “We want to make sure that everybody knows that we wouldn’t do that if the Marshal Service needs to get in touch with you, we would do that in person. You would be able to see our credentials, and you’ll be able to verify that we really are who we say we are and that at any time.”
She continued, “The U.S. Marshal Service, actually the oldest federal law enforcement agency and how I tell people is that we are basically the police for the judicial branch of the government. We enforce all things that the judges decide. So that means federal warrants, bringing federal prisoners to court, to their court, hearing their sentence.”
The main thing people need to remember is Social Security, and the U.S. Marshals will never demand money over the phone.