By Jon Delano

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In a new twist on scams, scam artists left this message on Dan Howard’s voice mail.

“This matter goes to federal claims court where you get arrested. Kindly call us back,” the voice said.

“We got in the last week three calls in a voice saying, ‘This is the federal court, you need to contact us, or we will come and take you away to jail,’” Howard told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

Howard says he did not take the threat seriously.

“The federal courts do not call up people, as far as I know, and say, send us money or we’re going to come take you away,” he said.

But the message sounds convincing.

“Hope to hear from you before the charges are pressed against you,” the voice adds, ominously.

In our presence, Howard did call the number back.

It rang until suddenly turning busy.

“We’ve heard of a number of scams where people are impersonating government officials,” says Deputy Attorney General Jess Harvey.

Harvey heads up the Bureau of Consumer Protection in this region for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and he says calls like that are clearly scams.

Harvey: “That should send up red flags immediately when somebody says they’re going to come down and arrest you if you don’t return the call.”
Delano: “It’s almost preposterous.”
Harvey: “It certainly is. It’s preposterous. It’s just meant to try to scare somebody at that particular time to have them give some type of personal information.”

The Bureau of Consumer Protection says it wants to hear about these scams.

So don’t just ignore them. Report them.

“We’re encouraging people if they are online to contact to let us know what their experience is,” says Harvey.

Harvey says the AG’s office will conduct a mini-investigation on every complaint it receives.