Sheriff Morgan warns of jury duty scam

“Don’t fall for the call” is the warning from the Newport News Sheriff’s Office.

For more than a month, city residents have alerted law enforcement about phone calls threatening them with arrest if they don’t pay up for missing jury duty. The caller usually says he’s with the sheriff’s office, sometimes saying he’s a deputy.

Earlier this year, the same Jury Duty Scam was making the rounds.  It was so upsetting to one couple that they came to the jail.  The husband was going to turn himself in because they didn’t have the money – about $1,500 — to pay to caller.

Major David Hughes with the Newport News Sheriff’s Office says you should call authorities right away if you get a call like that.

“First of all, know that if someone does miss jury duty or anything related to jury duty, there will NOT be a phone call made in reference to that.  It would be done through the U.S. Mail,” he explains.

“If you actually were to miss jury duty, it would be a ‘show cause’ issue. That’s when you would have to come to court and explain to the judge why you missed jury duty.  At that point, if any fines were levied, that would be the point it would be done. But we would NEVER ask anyone for money up front,” he stresses.

Major Hughes says these and other scams seem more real because the caller often know the person’s name and information.  That helps to makes the scam a bit more convincing.

The best advice: Don’t send money. Hang up.

You can get information on reporting frauds and scams in Virginia on the attorney general’s Website.  You also can call the Virginia Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area or from outside Virginia.  Business hours are weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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