Thurston County Superior Court is warning the public about a scam in which victims are accused of failing to report for jury duty.
Over the past week, the court has fielded at least five inquiries from people who say they got a call from someone claiming to be an officer or sheriff’s deputy representing the court. The caller would claim there had been an arrest warrant issued for failing to appear, then tell the potential victims to pay up to $1,500 with a cashier’s check to cover the warrant.
At least one juror was asked for a cellphone number, said jury administrator Bonnie Marks, who alerted The Olympian to the scam.
The court does not call people or issue warrants in these matters, and court officers will never ask for a payment or personal information. If an individual fails to report for jury service, the court will notify that person with a postcard in the mail, Marks said.
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“About once a year, there seems to be a scam that hits jury services across the country,” said Marks, who is unaware of anyone who has actually paid the phony fine. “We want people to feel confident in the court.”
In 2014, one victim in Thurston County was scammed out of $1,000 by a caller who demanded a fine for missing jury duty.
The jury duty scam is common. According to the FBI, victims are caught off-guard by the unexpected threat of arrest and are more willing to give out personal information to defuse the situation. The scammers then use that information to steal a person’s identity or empty a bank account, for example.
Anyone who receives such a call is urged to hang up and contact the police.