Law enforcement agencies across the nation are raising the alarm on a wave of phone call scams in recent weeks that have swept through various regions, preying on individuals who have allegedly missed jury duty appointments.
According to reports, scammers are posing as law enforcement officers to dupe unsuspecting citizens.
One vigilant woman, Elizabeth Murray, has come forward to share her experience and raise awareness about these deceptive schemes.
Murray’s encounter with the scam began when her husband received a voicemail from a supposed Monroe County, New York, sheriff’s deputy inquiring about her whereabouts.
Recognizing the potential for a scam, Murray decided to investigate further by calling the number provided in the voicemail. Their suspicions were confirmed when they discovered inconsistencies.
For instance, according to Murray, the call initially led them through a series of options, including prompts to select different offices, eventually leading them to a voicemail claiming to be from the Erie County, New York, Sheriff’s Department.
Moments later, Murray received a callback from the same number, with the caller identifying himself as a captain from the sheriff’s department. However, the individual did not provide further information, prompting Murray to inquire about the reason for the call.
The scammer then informed Murray that warrants had been issued for her arrest because she had failed to appear for federal jury duty, citing the authority of “Honorable Judge Richard.”
The scammer proceeded to instruct Murray on how to rectify the situation. Murray, determined to understand the scammer’s motives, engaged in conversation and made note of two case numbers, which the scammer referred to as warrant and arrest numbers.
Suspicion grew as Murray texted her friends, who were law enforcement officers, for their input. They too recognized the call as a scam.
When Murray mentioned her officer friends to the scammer, he put her on hold, leading her to believe that he would disconnect the call. However, upon reconnecting, Murray informed him of her conversation with another officer, at which point the scammer abruptly hung up.
Murray considers herself fortunate to have detected the scam before losing any money. The scammers had urged her to meet them at the county jail, potentially with the intention of extracting money from her. Furthermore, there was a concern that the scammer might attempt to locate her and burglarize her home.
The scam included several red flags, including the scammer’s inaccurate phone number, the voicemail’s association with the wrong sheriff’s office and the caller ID not matching Monroe County’s registered numbers.
Brendan Hurley of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office advised individuals to exercise caution and trust their instincts when receiving such calls.
“It never hurts my feelings if I make a phone call and you don’t believe who I am because then there’s two options. I can come visit you and show you who I am so you can see the bright shiny badge and all of that or you can call 9-1-1. I’ll give you my information and you can run it through 9-1-1 and they will verify it with me that I am trying to get in touch with you,” Hurley said.
Another incident in Berks County, Pennsylvania, saw a resident targeted by a similar scam.
The victim allegedly received a call from a number appearing to be the Berks County Sheriff’s Office, where an individual posed as an officer and claimed there was a warrant for the victim’s arrest due to missed federal jury duty.
The scammer threatened arrest and demanded a payment of $4,900. Despite the victim’s bank refusing the withdrawal, the scammer managed to convince the victim to send $1,000 via Zelle, a digital payment network, before realizing it was a scam.
Meanwhile, in Brown County, Wisconsin, another variant of the jury duty scam emerged, where scammers impersonating law enforcement informed residents of missed jury duty and demanded payment to avoid arrest.
Scammers used technology to make it seem as if they were calling from a government phone number, and they even displayed the sheriff’s office on the caller ID in a technique known as “spoofing.”
Clerk of Courts John Vander Leest urged jurors to never send cash, gift cards or Bitcoin for missing jury service. Instead, he advised to report such incidents to law enforcement and not provide personal or financial information to the callers.
Lastly, in Platteville, Wisconsin, the police department issued a warning about a new scam involving fake calls and emails claiming warrants for arrest due to missed jury duty hearings.
The scammers falsely identified themselves as law enforcement officers, but authorities clarified that the information was illegitimate and encouraged victims to report such incidents to their local law enforcement agencies.