People seeking fraudulent over-the-phone payments by falsely accusing Tarrant County residents for failing to appear for jury duty have added a new tactic lending them a false sense of authenticity, said Terry Grisham, Executive Administrator for the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO).
Those targeted by the scam should file a police report, said Grisham, adding that they may also want to report the matter to a federal agency that investigates Internet-related cyber-crime.
The scam involves an individual calling a Tarrant County resident and telling him or her that there is a warrant out for the person’s arrest for failing to appear for jury duty, said Tarrant County Jury Bailiff Paula Morales. They are then given the option to pay their fine with a credit card, or a pre-paid debit card like a Green Dot Money Card, to avoid being arrested.
Recently, the scammers have begun using the names of TCSO command staff chiefs to give the fraudulent operation a false authenticity, said Grisham. Morales added that they have also used the name of one of the County’s judges. These names are apparently being copied off of Tarrant County web pages.
Morales said that, if a warrant is actually issued for failing to appear for jury duty, a uniformed officer would personally serve the warrant. “If an officer contacts you by phone, it would be to instruct you to immediately report to the jury room or to a court in order to avoid potential sanctions,” she said. “No money is ever requested or collected over the phone for failure to report for jury duty.” Additionally, any fines or sanctions would be assessed by the judge only after the person is brought before the court.
If you have any questions about a call alleging that you have a warrant for failing to appear for jury duty, contact the Tarrant County Jury services at 817-884-3820. Those contacted by the scammers should also call their local police department and file a report, said Grisham, adding that those who live in the unincorporated areas of the County can report the crime to the Sheriff’s Office by calling 911. Further, because the Internet is being used, a report can be filed with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov. The IC3 is affiliated with the FBI.