Sheriffs in at least 11 states are having to warn their residents not to be taken in by a phone scam that makes people think they have to pay money over the phone if they miss jury duty. Some callers are using prepaid phones with out-of-state area codes to make the fraudulent calls demanding money, while others have found a way to make the phone number show up on recipients' caller IDs as the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, according to a May 21 report from First Coast News in Florida.
The service being used by these criminals allows the user to choose how their call is identified to their target, so, unfortunately, you can't trust caller ID when you are choosing whether or not to take a phone call based on the caller's viewable phone number.
Sheriff offices in a number of states, including Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and New Jersey are reminding citizens that they will not demand money to be paid over the telephone regarding any fines owed, and that no one can legitimately avoid arrest by paying a law enforcement office if a legal warrant has been issued for them and is in the process of being executed.
Some residents contacted may not have even been scheduled for jury duty, so don't be quick to think you were and are now in trouble for not showing up. The judicial system will be understanding, especially in light of this recent scam targeting alleged jurors.
A Georgia inmate at the Autry State Prison has been tied to one of the phone scams currently underway, according to WALB News 10, along with a corrections officer at another Georgia private prison. Both have been charged with extortion for their alleged roles in the national phone scam crimes in 11 states. And the correctional officer has been extradited to New Jersey to face an additional charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from a sheriff's office in your city and state, hang up the phone and contact your local sheriff's office directly. And be sure to share the phone number of the person who called you, so law enforcement can track down these criminals, especially if they are working the phone lines from inside a prison, where they should not be able to perpetrate more crimes on society's citizens.