Don’t fall for it: Jury duty phone scam accepting credit card information

March 05, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula Times The jury duty telephone scam is taking another turn with growing reports that not only are Ventura County citizens being told they must pay to cancel an arrest warrant issued, but that payment can be made right then and there via credit card to the sheriff making the call. And that scammer on the line has been reported to even have personal information about the person they’re trying to steal from.

Last week’s initial reports of the scam-in which a telephone caller represents themselves as a member of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office-noted that payments were being asked to be made via Green Dot prepaid debit cards. 

Now, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the scam is also attempting to persuade the potential victim to provide payment information over the telephone for failing to report for jury duty.

VCSD Sgt. Eric Buschow said the caller claims the victim has a warrant issued for their arrest; however, they have the option to pay the fine over the phone by providing credit card information. 

“Victims are caught off guard, and shocked at the prospect of having a warrant issued for their arrest,” said Buschow. “The scam preys upon the victim’s unquestioning acceptance of authority and willingness to cooperate with law enforcement. 

“In some cases, the victims have returned calls in response to messages left on their answering machines and heard a recorded message leading them to believe they had reached the Sheriff’s Office.”

During calls, according to the VCSD, the suspect has also disclosed personal information about the victim, such as the victim’s address, to further legitimize their identity.

The “jury service scam” is not a new one and has been circulating around the United States since 2005, occurring in states from Maryland to California. 

The suspects utilize Internet programs known as “Voice Over Internet Protocol”, or “VoIP” to facilitate the scam.

Buschow noted, “Utilizing these programs, suspects can change their voice and mimic a local area code telephone number in order to provide a sense of legitimacy to the call. This technique allows for calls to originate from foreign countries,” while leading the victim to believe the call is coming from Ventura County.

Residents are reminded that Sheriff’s employees NEVER request financial or payment information over the telephone for any reason. 

The VCSD is asking if the public receives calls regarding jury service, they should contact the Ventura County Superior Court Jury Services Division directly at (805) 654-2256.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit has begun an investigation into the reported incidents.

Those with leads can also contact Ventura County Crime Stoppers, which will pay up to $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477). 

Ventura County Crime Stoppers can also be contacted by texting “Busted” plus your message to CRIMES (274637). 

Crime Stopper Tips can also be sent via the website,   

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