Don't Be a Victim: Jury Scams - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Don't Be a Victim: Jury Scams

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Criminals are constantly looking for ways to get their hands on your hard-earned money. Don’t be a victim! 

In this week’s segment, we have more on another scam making the that several people in our area have already fallen for.

“I’m thinking, 'Oh my God, if they called my office, it has to be legitimate,' said Violeta Hicks, a nurse practitioner who recently fell victim to a jury scam. The phone call, from a man claiming to be a lieutenant with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, sounded real enough to Violeta Hicks.

“He then proceeds to tell me that he has a warrant for my arrest, and I said, 'warrant...warrant for what?' And he proceeds to tell me, 'you have missed jury duty.”

The caller told Hicks that she would have to turn herself in at the Chatham County Detention Center, but that she would be released after paying a $1,200 retainer that would be refunded after she appeared in court.

“They told me to purchase these three cards and put a certain amount of money, $400 each on the cards, and it still didn’t dawn on me at that point that anything else was going on,” Hicks said. 

Hicks then proceeded to the detention center where she waited and waited, only to eventually find there is no Lieutenant Pete Hernandez, and that she was the victim of a scam.

“And I’m like, 'what in the world? They have wasted three or four hours of my time and taken my money, and I just wanted to make sure that other people were aware, especially the elderly, as to what’s going on."

Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher says most often, the scammer tells the victim they have failed to report for jury duty and are now subject to a contempt of court find. They will then demand the victim pay via a 'Pay Pal Account' or by purchasing a pre-paid card.

“Number one, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office will not call anybody and tell them that you missed jury duty, you owe a fine, or you got a fine and you've got to get a green dot card and all this. People have got to understand that the sheriff’s office or any other police agency does not do this,” Wilcher said. 

As for the $1,200, Hicks will never see that again.

“Well, it’s gone. It’s gone because apparently, these numbers are untraceable. My bank can’t do anything about it because I willingly went and withdrew the money.”

But she did learn a valuable lesson that she wants to pass on to others.

“I would just hang up the phone on them and get in contact with your local officials and let them know what is going on, because I do not want this to happen to anybody else," Hicks said. 

If you have been a victim of this scam or have information, you are asked to call the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Unit at 912.652.7681.

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