Jury duty failure to show — phone scam surfaces again


By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

Sorry, wrong number. Or at least that is what you should say if you receive a phone call from someone telling you that you have not shown up for jury duty and that there is a bench warrant for your arrest. This is just one of the latest phone scams circulating in Orange and Chatham Counties during the past few weeks.

“They said I never showed up for jury duty, and there was a bench warrant out for my arrest,” said Nancy (last name withheld).“ I told them I never got a letter and he told me that it was sent, and now there is a warrant out to arrest me.” The caller then told her to get rid of the warrant she would have to pay a fine by credit card immediately.

“That’s when I was sure it was a scam,” she said. “I hung up and called the Sheriff’s department, and they assured me this was a scam.”

Fortunately for her, she figured it out. Many do not because of the threat of being arrested.

TLR contacted Chatham County Sheriff’s Department communication officer Randall Rigsbee, who said, “Though our office hasn’t observed a notable increase recently, scam telephone calls occur frequently.  While many residents likely receive these calls, they often go unreported unless a victim suffers a financial loss.”

Rigsbee shared the following information on how to avoid being scammed:

Scammers often impersonate government agencies like Chatham County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), even using the real names of CCSO officers or court officials.

What can residents do to protect themselves?

  • Be skeptical of unsolicited calls, especially those claiming to be from a government agency or financial institutions.
  • Verify caller identity—Independently verify the caller’s identity using official contact information from reliable sources. Avoid using the contact information provided by the caller.
  • Don’t share personal information over the phone. Legitimate organizations will never ask for sensitive information.
  • Caller ID can be manipulated by scammers to make calls appear legitimate. Do not solely rely on caller ID to determine the authenticity of a call.
  • Question and resist high-pressure tactics since scammers frequently use emotions to manipulate victims.
  • Share information with friends and family. A well-informed community is better equipped to recognize scams and avoid falling victim.
  • Report suspected scams to the Sheriff’s Office or relevant authorities. This helps law enforcement track and combat fraud.
  • Routinely monitor financial statements for any unauthorized or suspicious transactions.

These practical tips can help residents be proactive in protecting themselves from scam telephone calls.

There are many different scams according to the Federal Communications Commission.  Here are tips to spot a scammer, according to the Federal Trade Commission:

  • “Act now!” puts pressure on the listener, which is always a sign of a scam.
  • “Only say what I tell you to say.” This is used when the victim is involved in something like investing their life savings in cryptocurrency. The scammer tells them exactly what to say to their investment broker to release their funds.
  • “Don’t trust anyone, they are in on it.” According to the FTC, scammers use this to cut you off from anyone who might slow the victim down from paying them.
  • “Do this or you will be arrested.” No one needs money to have you avoid arrest or deportation. These are all scams.
  • “Don’t hang up.” If someone wants you to stay on the phone while you go withdraw money or do anything to pay them. That’s a scammer.

A list of instructions that would only come from a scanner:

  • Move your money to protect it.
  • Withdraw your money and buy gold bars.
  • Withdraw cash and give it to (someone).
  • Go to a bitcoin ATM.
  • Buy gift cards.

The FTC recommends that you hang up, delete the email or text threat, and stop communication immediately if you hear any of these phrases. Then, tell someone you trust and contact the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.

AARP resource:
AARP runs a fraud watch alert helpline Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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