Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Houston Field Office, Perrye K. Turner, the Harris County District Clerk, and other law enforcement officers have issued a warning to residents of a phone scam. The callers are fraudulently told that they owe a fine for missing jury duty. On Sept. 27, 2016, the announcement stated that reports of this fraud had surfaced in Southeast Texas.
Nationwide Alert For Jury Scam
However, according to Turner, similar scams are being reported across the United States. He explained the criminals sound official and intimidating. The callers frequently use the actual names for local or federal authorities to make themselves and the scheme believable.
Turner was emphatic when he added:
Don’t be fooled – each and every case is a fraud designed to trick you out of your hard-earned cash. No law enforcement official will ever call you by phone and demand money.
Harris County District Clerk’s Office held a news conference to alert residents since the number of these jury scam calls have become more frequent and the criminals have increased the amount of money they are demanding. Sheriff Ron Hickman and Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen joined Agent Turner and others during the meeting with the media.
Bigger Scam; More Money Stolen
In the past, similar scams typically stole between $300-400 from victims. Currently, the demands begin at $1,000. During the previous year, there were seven incidents of the jury scam investigated by the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office. In those cases, the victims paid $2,000-7,000.
One man who spoke at the press conference was a civil trial attorney who was scammed out of $1,000 in August. Daniel said: “These con men are sophisticated. They’re smooth talkers who pose as police officers demanding payment for phony fines. But the public can avoid becoming victimized if they remember that police officers and court clerks never have and never will call demanding such payments.”
Protect Yourselves, Family, Elder Adults
He pleaded with the public to spread the message and let friends and family know about this jury scam. Daniel reminded everyone to make sure they warned elderly folks, who are so often victims of phony con men asking for money for a seemingly natural reason.
In the past, the primary marks were senior citizens and occasionally immigrants. However, these con men are targeting the general public. These people tend to abide by the law and follow rules; that is what makes them easy prey.
How The Scam Works
The FBI alert offers the following details:
Con men posing as police officers demand immediate payment for phony fines for missed jury service. Callers are told that officers will be dispatched immediately if the fines are not paid.
Usually, callers are told they must make payment using prepaid debit cards. Authorities at the news conference emphatically reminded the public that officers would never call a person to collect any fine. Furthermore, no one from the IRS or any other government agencies would make such calls.
Education Key to Safety Against Scams
Moreover, they told citizens, “never provide payments, credit card information, or personal information such as birthdates and Social Security numbers.”
AARP, Inc., formally known as the American Association of Retired Persons, frequently warns seniors of a variety of phone scams. They tell the public that con men are out there and ready to take the money of any gullible person they can find. In fact, the AARP has a hotline for anyone to report a scam or if there is suspected fraud.
Education is the primary reason authorities held the press conference, they contend that a knowledgeable public has a greater chance of not succumbing to the jury scam or any other. Even though this press release and conference are from Harris County, Texas, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies warn that there are phone scams popping up around the country.
By Cathy Milne
FBI Press Release: Jury Scam Picks Up in Harris County
AARP: Community Services
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