Beware of jury duty scams | Better Business Bureau

Impersonator scams can be so convincing and frightening that anyone can be a victim.

  • Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:33pm
  • Business

Intimidated, panicked and terrified. These are often the feelings victims experience while in the midst of being conned. Impersonator scams can be so convincing and frightening that anyone can be a victim.

A jury duty scam hit close to home when a Better Business Bureau employee found herself caught up in the scam and ended up losing nearly $2,000. And when it was over, the scammers attempted to recruit her to con others. To make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else BBB is sharing her story.

The BBB employee had previously requested a delay to a March 20 jury summons and was issued a confirmation postcard from the courthouse. On March 20, someone phoned her parents and told them their daughter had failed to appear to jury duty and needed to call the sheriff’s office.

On March 21, the BBB employee got in touch with the scammer impersonating a Thurston County Sheriff’s officer, who told her there was a mix-up with her delay request, and she was going to be arrested and charged with contempt of the court and failure to appear. In order to avoid arrest, she was told to purchase a “bonding certificate” and take it to the Thurston County Sheriff’s office along with her delay confirmation postcard.

The scammers kept her on the phone for over two hours and pressured her to pull the money from her account in order to purchase the “bonding certificate.” She was told to go to a grocery store and purchase MoneyPak cards worth almost $2,000 and read the numbers to them for insurance purposes. On her way to the sheriff’s office, they told her one of the cards didn’t work and she would need to purchase another. She told the scammer she couldn’t afford to purchase more cards and would need to contact her family for help. When she contacted her family, she was advised to quit speaking with the scammers and hang up. Later the scammers tried to call her and sent her a text stating: “Want your money back? You can make some too.”

BBB advises these tips to avoid jury duty imposter scams:

  • Never wire money. Wiring or transferring money should automatically raise a red flag because police will never ask for payment, including Green Dot MoneyPak or iTunes gift cards, over the phone.
  • Police officials never call to warn about an arrest. But if contacted by law enforcement, always ask for police identification or credentials. Hang up the phone and look up the police or sheriff department’s number listed online and call back to verify someone has just called.
  • Don’t give out your personal information. Many of these scammers will ask you to verify your name, birth date and Social Security number, but jury duty notifications will never ask for personal information. This is one way scammers can steal your identity.
  • Fake phone calls often come in the evening. Scammers usually call after business hours because they know they have a better chance of getting victims on the phone. If called, just hang up and don’t call back.

Those who have been affected by this scam are encouraged to report their information to their local police department, the Federal Trade Commission, Washington State Office of the Attorney General and BBB Scam Tracker.

More in Business

Health care priority concern of lawmakers | Don Brunell

Our country is expected to spend $5.5 trillion on health care by 2025.

Immunizations make a difference | Don Brunell

Venezuela is in deep trouble, partly because its public health system no longer offer the full cycle of vaccinations.

‘Medical spa’ offers variety of skin treatments

Rainier Laser and Aesthetics Center is now open in Enumclaw.

Enumclaw opens new preschool, now enrolling students

Classes for two different age groups are being offered.

Cost matters when businesses hire | Don Brunell

It’s not just wages, but benefits, that companies must consider when hiring or retaining workers.

Military also adjusting to worker shortages | Don Brunell

There are just fewer qualified people in the employment pool to fill jobs which require higher educational standards, more skills, a willingness to work hard, and the dexterity to be part of a team.

Portland shipyard building wave of the future | Don Brunell

While it may not be the first commercial wave energy project, it will be one of the largest.

Carbon fee hurts businesses and families | Don Brunell

A carbon tax would raise over $610 million in its first year and jump to $761 million by 2023, but the added cost from the initiative over 15 years is projected to be 57-cents a gallon.

The Russians are indeed coming | Don Brunell

Russia is now the world’s top wheat producer.

Firehouse Pub: slight change of address but atmosphere remains the same

It was quite the project, renovating the pub’s new home.

Enumclaw’s QFC debuts home delivery service

The first order is free, but other orders will come with a charge.

Boeing’s venture into hypersonic jets | Don Brunell

The company’s come a long way since nearly crashing the company with its first attempt at supersonic flight.