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Warn Your Aging Clients About This Fake U.S. Marshal Scam


Warn Your Aging Clients About This Fake U.S. Marshal Scam

The Federal Trade Commission makes every effort to warn consumers about the latest scams and the information is important. However, your investors are not likely to spend time browsing through the FTC website for scams. We at are passing on a warning for you to share with your clients. We want them to love you for how much you take care of them. When they get a friendly letter or email from you, that shows you’re paying attention to them.

Let them know about the fake U.S. Marshal scam. Here’s how it works:

The scammers get phone numbers from lists of potential targets. It is no secret that telephone numbers of seniors, in particular, are bought and sold by unscrupulous people. This scam is not limited to elders, but they are especially vulnerable, having been raised to generally respect authority. The scammer has a fake phone ID and number and perhaps even a real badge number stolen from the Marshal’s office. So your client might have caller ID and see “U.S. Marshal” on it. It’s intended to scare them. It works.

The caller says the target is delinquent in reporting for jury duty and there is a fine due immediately which must be paid. The caller threatens that the Marshal will arrest the target if he or she does not pay immediately. Of course, there is no such consequence for failing to report for jury duty and there was no summons for Federal jury service the target ever got. Never mind that, the target reacts out of fear.

When we react out of fear, we’re not logical. Why would a U.S. Marshal insist that anyone buy a pre-paid gift card for cash or wire money? That never happens. This may sound very obviously phony to you, but your aging client can be fooled by it. Perhaps the client is a bit forgetful and is terrified that he forgot about a jury summons. Or she thinks she is about to be taken away and she complies, feeling she has no choice but going to jail.

Related: Are You Marketing Your Advisory Firm Where the REAL Wealth Is?

The takeaway is this. Please send a communication to all your clients that warns them of this scam and advises that you are looking out for their financial safety. You need to tell them:

  1. Don’t ever wire money or buy a prepaid card for anyone who contacts you by phone making threats, no matter who they say they are.
  2. Thieves get phony caller ID and can look real but they are not.
  3. Never give out any personal information such as your address, date of birth, your credit card number, your social security number or any other private data to a caller. If you call a company on your own and need to give this information that’s different. If anyone calls you and asks for it, hang up.

Your client can report attempts made by scammers to the Federal Trade Commission online. However, these thieves are hard to catch. They change states and phone numbers faster than law enforcement can track them. Finally, do not, as a financial advisor, assume that your smart, educated or savvy clients would never fall for these phony calls. Over $36B is stolen from elders every year in this country. Even the smartest people can be caught off guard. Warning everyone is a small thing but could save one of your clients from painful loss and ID theft.

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