Court clerk warns of jury duty scam
The Garfield County Court Clerk says a new phone scam has been targeting Garfield County residents, and has even gone so far as to use the names of local judges and deputies to appear authentic.
The scammers have been posing as the court clerk’s office or law enforcement and claiming that the individual has a warrant for their arrest for failure to show for jury duty.
“This particular caller seems to have researched our court and used one of our judge’s names as the judge that issued the warrant,” said Jim Bradford, the Garfield County court clerk. “I have also had an instance where the individual also used a sheriff’s deputy’s name and asked the person to send, via credit card, a relatively large amount of money to quash the warrant.”
“I want to reassure the residents that court officers nor local law enforcement will never ask for a payment, a credit card or Social Security number,” he said. “If someone should receive such a demand … please report it to the local law enforcement immediately.”
“We never call or email people telling them there is a warrant of any kind,” said the court clerk.
It’s unclear how many people have received this call, but Bradford said that it appears to be a statewide issue, after hearing from numerous other jury commissioners from other jurisdictions saying their residents were being targeted by the same phone scam. Bradford said in one case a Garfield County resident handed over about $3,000. Other jury commissioners also reported some of their residents being taken for thousands of dollars.
“As far as I know the people being called did not actually have a jury summons or failed to appear for jury duty. I think they were just random phone calls,” said Bradford.
Police Chief Terry Wilson said that jury duty phone scams are nothing new, but the scammers using names of local judges and law enforcement officers is a new development in their tactics.
Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call, you know who it is you’re calling and have established a business relationship with them, advised the chief.
Phones scammers have commonly claimed to be calling because the target missed jury duty, has a warrant for their arrest or has failed to pay their electric utilities. But government in general doesn’t make notices that way, said Wilson.
“These entities do not call you to say you’re late on a bill or that you missed court,” he said. “You should always verify any such claims by contacting the entity that the caller is purporting to be.”
Often scammers will ask their target to make a payment by using a pre-paid card, which should be a big red flag. “No entity does business that way, those are thieves,” said Wilson. Police investigators have actually gotten some of these scammers on the phone “and they can be amazingly assertive and convincing,” said the chief. “They’re good at what they’re doing.”