Incidents pertaining to a Liberty County jury-duty scam first reported on last week are escalating, and some area residents have fallen prey to it.
Liberty County Clerk of Courts Barry Wilkes first warned citizens of the con earlier this month. Since then, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has collected more detailed information in an effort to educate area residents and help them identify possible fraudulent encounters.
Detective Charles Woodall said the LCSO has received numerous complaints recently from citizens who have fielded calls from a person claiming to be Lt. Hall with the LCSO. The caller advises the potential victim that he or she missed jury duty and an arrest warrant has been issued.
“The caller goes on to say that if the citizen pays a fine, they can avoid being arrested and instructs the citizen to either give a credit card or use some online means to make payments to take care of the matter,” Woodall said.
In some instances, the scammer has convinced local residents to provide credit-card numbers, which he then used to made charges of amounts between $100 and $800.
In other instances, the scammer has convinced victims to purchase prepaid credit cards, Green Dot cards or MoneyGrams. He then obtains the card’s authorization number, which allows him to immediately remove the pre-loaded funds, according to Woodall.
The scammer tells his victims to go to the courthouse or the police department to obtain a receipt showing their fine had been paid. When the payee arrives to pick up his or her receipt, they learn they’ve been conned.
“Citizens need to be aware that this is a scam and no one from the sheriff’s office or any other law-enforcement agency would require a citizen to make any such payments in this matter,” Woodall said.
Anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to represent the sheriff’s office in this manner should hang up and verify the validity of any supposedly missed court dates or jury-duty summonses with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office or the Liberty County Clerk of Courts, Woodall said. Under no circumstances should anyone agree to provide any personal information or transfer any funds.
In the past three days, several Liberty residents have fallen prey to this scam, according to the detective. The scammer changes his telephone number after each successful attempt but continues to use the same ruse.
Anyone who receives such a call should notify the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction where the citizen lives.