Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On June 20, 2024, the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced that they are receiving reports of fraudsters, posing as law enforcement, attempting to scam unsuspecting Montanans out of thousands of dollars. 

According to Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, these scammers are calling individuals claiming there is a warrant for their arrest because they missed jury duty. The scammers are directing individuals to go the bank, withdraw cash, and then deposit the funds into bitcoin machines or ATMs, such as Coinstar kiosks. 

“Those are huge red flags,” Knudsen said. “First of all, a governmental agency is never going to ask you to pay a fine over the phone. If they want you to go someplace while they're on the phone with you and have you pay in crypto or have you pay in gift cards from Walmart or some other store, that’s a huge red flag. You know it's a scam if you see that. If you get one of these phone calls, please reach out to our Office of Consumer Protection here at the Department of Justice. Let us know about it, be educated, and don’t fall for it.” 

OCP encourages Montanans who are targeted by these scammers to hang up the phone and report it to investigators using the online reporting form here or by calling (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500. 

Currently, all reports have come from Lewis and Clark County. OCP investigators were able to stop two people from falling victim to the scam over the phone and interdicted another instance at a bitcoin machine in Helena. 

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The scammers also have personal information, such as the name and address, of the individuals they are targeting. Knudsen added that these scammers typically target our elderly population in the state. 

To avoid falling victim to the scam, look out for the following red flags: 

  • Law enforcement doesn’t call you if there is a warrant for your arrest; 
  • Law enforcement/courts don’t take payment in the form of bitcoin; 
  • The immediate threat of incarceration; 
  • Directions not to speak to anyone or tell anyone. 

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