Officials say that it is the scam’s simplicity that makes it so effective.
How it works is a caller identifies himself as an officer of the court or a jury coordinator and says that the receipient has failed to report for jury duty and a warrant is out for their arrest. Having never received a notice for civic duty, the typical response is usually one of protest. To clear up the matter, the caller says that more information is needed for “verification purposes” — birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.
Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation. With enough information, scammers can assume another’s identity and empty a victim’s bank account.
According to the FBI website (www.fbi.gov), some callers may even try to “bully” or use “intimidation” to get information from unsuspecting residents, claiming to wipe the slate clean, but it is all just a ploy to steal identities.
The fraud has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois, Colorado and North Carolina.
The best way to combat the fraud — just hang up. As a rule, court officers will never ask for confidential information over the phone; they generally correspond with prospective jurors via mail.
If you receive a suspicious call like this within the next few weeks, you are urged to call your local District Court office and report it.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 139 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Common Telephone Scams
Con artists never run out of scams. Have you heard any of these?
• Prize offers: You usually have to do something to get your “free” prize--attend a sales presentation, buy something, or give out a credit card number. The prizes generally are worthless or overpriced.
• Travel packages: “Free” or “low-cost” vacations can end up costing a bundle in hidden costs. Or, they may never happen. You may pay a high price for some part of the package -- like hotel or airfare. The total cost may run two to three times more than what you’d expect to pay or what you were led to believe.
• Vitamins and other health products: The sales pitch also may include a prize offer. This is to entice you to pay hundreds of dollars for products that are worth very little.
• Investments: People lose millions of dollars to “get rich quick” schemes that promise high returns with little or no risk. These can include gemstones, rare coins, oil and gas leases, precious metals, art, and other “investment opportunities.” As a rule, these are worthless.
• Charities: Con artists often label phony charities with names that sound like better-known, reputable organizations. They won’t send you written information or wait for you to check them out with watchdog groups.
• Recovery scams: If you buy into any of the above scams, you’re likely to be called again by someone promising to get your money back. Be careful not to lose more money in this common practice. Even law enforcement officials can’t guarantee they’ll recover your money.