Scam Week--The Jury Duty Scam - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/27/06

Scam Week--The Jury Duty Scam

Serving on a jury of our peers, when called, is our duty as an American citizen. That's why we take it seriously. But what if you missed jury duty? A new scam is preying on unsuspecting victims.

It all starts with just one phone call. A person claims to be with your local court system, and tells you you missed jury duty--you could go to jail, and an arrest warrant has already been issued. They hope you panic and give up personal information.

It's called the fake jury duty con. "We've heard of the scam," said Danny DeLoach, court administrator for the Eastern Judicial Court. "It's a whole new twist. People use it to try and make money."

DeLoach hasn't heard any reports of the scam hitting Georgia, but nine other states have had jury scam cases. And people have fallen for it, giving up social security numbers, birth dates and even bank account numbers.

"The threat of the warrant, I think, possesses them to go ahead and give up that information over the phone," said DeLoach.

Last year, 30,000 jurors were summoned. Twenty missed jury duty. But none of them were arrested or threatened with arrest.

"Under law, you can be fined or put in jail for 30 days, but that's an extreme case," said DeLoach. "It's a last reserve we would use."

DeLoach says normal protocol is a phone call asking why a juror didn't show. He says don't fall for the arrest warrant line.

"That's what the scam says, that's what gets people's attention," he said.

So, if you miss jury duty--or someone claims you missed jury duty--you will not be arrested. And, like any scam, never give away your social security number or bank information over the phone.

Tomorrow night, we continue Scam Week with a look at another con out there taking advantage of tax time. It's called the IRS scam. We'll show you how it works tomorrow night on THE News at 6.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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