Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is informing residents of a warrant scam which is targeting local citizens. Several citizens reported receiving the phone call on Monday, December 11.
In this scam, a scam artist identifies himself as a member of the U.S. Marshals (or similar agency), and he claims you failed to appear in court. He references the 17th Judicial District and even a local judge by name. The scammer then demands you pay a sum of money immediately, or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. The caller then demands you acquire a prepaid debit card, electronic money order or gift card, and call them back immediately with payment.
In reality, if you are required to appear in court, you would have been duly notified. It should, therefore, not be a “surprise” to learn you missed court. In the event you do actually fail to appear in court, a warrant may then be issued for your arrest, but the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office would not call demanding immediate payment. Also, should you choose to pay a fine or ticket by phone, those means of payment would not be accepted. You can only use a credit card or debit card when paying fines or tickets by phone to LPSO.
While this scam is unique and has aspects based in reality, it demonstrates that citizens should be able to discern whether a phone call is a scam based on common signs. In this case, the demand for “immediate” payment by an incoming caller and the payment method (prepaid debit card, electronic money order or gift card) are two signs of a scam. Other signs include a caller asking you to send money to receive money or prizes, a caller using threatening or vulgar language, or someone calling from a department, but not giving the name of the company. Ultimately, if you are concerned the call may be legitimate, simply hang up and call the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985) 532-2808. If the call is in reference to tickets, fees, or fines, you can call directly, (985) 449-4428. Do not call a number given to you by the incoming caller unless you verify it first.
We encourage you to call us BEFORE you send money if you have any doubt about the authenticity of the call. We would be happy to assist you to ensure you do not become the next scam victim. It is not necessary to report every phone scam, but if you lose money in a scam or receive threats of physical harm or violence, you should report it to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency.