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One big way to scare people into falling for a scam is to threaten legal action.  It makes you panic and gives you an extreme sense of urgency, which makes you prioritize immediate action over careful consideration.

A few years ago this was very common with many different virus variants.  You would get a warning on your screen that some illegal activity was detected on your computer.  The warning would usually list several very serious possible offenses.  Then it would demand immediate payment, usually using some specific payment method you had never heard of, or a warrant would be issued for your arrest.  The scam usually claimed to be the FBI.

There's a reason this scam worked so hard to put you in fight-or-flight mode.  Quite simply, if you stopped to think about it for half a second you would quickly realize that the FBI doesn't extort money out of people.  If they detect criminal activity they just come get you, the end.  Then there's a trial.  And THEN, only AFTER a guilty verdict there's the part where they tell you the punishment, which is NEVER "multiple choice".  There may be a fine, there may be jail time, there may be both, but you don't get to choose, the judge does.

Shady bill collectors may also threaten victims with arrest if they don't pay up, even though doing so is very illegal.

These types of scams are pretty easy to avoid if you just take a second or two to think about what the scammer is saying and how the legal system in the US works.  You don't pay some fine, fee, penalty or bill OR get charged with a crime, you get charged with a crime, tried, convicted AND THEN the fine, fee or penalty is determined.  If it's a bill, there are no debtor's prisons in the US (well, that's a matter of some debate, but ideally there are not).  If criminal activity is uncovered the FIRST thing that happens, before you even know anything about it, is that you are charged with a crime.  The NEXT thing that happens is court.  Only AFTER all of that is there any type of financial punishment.