It didn’t take long for Ann to realize something was not right when she received a phone call in regard to her missing jury duty.
Ann, a Sedona resident who asked that her last name not be used, was one of many residents in Yavapai and Coconino counties to receive calls in the last two weeks as part of a new scam. Those called are told they have a warrant for their arrest for missing jury duty and then are given the option of paying the fine over the phone using pre-paid debit cards or other means.
Sheriff’s departments from both counties issued warnings on this and other ongoing scams last week [as reported in the Wednesday, Dec. 14, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News]. Ann received her call at around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and was told there was a warrant out for her arrest.
“I work at home and I was on the other line when I received the call,” she said. “He said he was Lt. Larry Chisum of the civil processing division of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department. He said I was supposed to have appeared for jury duty that day and that I now had to come down to the sheriff’s office.”
Two things tipped her off right away that it wasn’t a legitimate call. First, the address he gave to confirm it was in fact her was a vacant lot she and her husband sold five years ago. Secondly, she lives in Yavapai County, not Coconino.
“I kept telling him, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,’” she said. “Then he said I needed to have a mobile escort to the sheriff’s office. At that point I gave the phone to my husband and on the other phone called the sheriff’s department. The person I talked to said they didn’t have a Lt. Chisum and that it was a scam.”
Unlike most of the others who reported receiving similar calls, Ann said the scammer never got to the point when he demanded money. Even though she said he mentioned something about there being a $1,495 fine for not appearing.
“Even though he never asked directly for money, you could tell he was trying to get there,” she said of the 10 to 15 minute call that originated from Winslow according to her caller ID. “He wasn’t very clear and was definitely ill prepared. Plus, I would never give my information to anyone or pay for anything over the phone. No matter what he said, he wasn’t going to get anything from me.”
That said, she added, “But I can see how some people would be concerned when you get a call from the sheriff’s office. That’s enough to worry anyone. At first, he did catch me off guard.”
The CCSO provided the following tips in helping to avoid being a victim of a scam:
- Keep your financial information to yourself. Never give out credit card, checking or savings account information to anyone who calls you, as it is not difficult for someone with this data to draft money from your account.
- Ask the caller to send you information about their product or services. Legitimate companies are often happy to mail you a pamphlet or brochure about what they sell.
- Place your name on the national Do Not Call List.
- Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.