CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers about a phone scam in which a person receives a call threatening arrest or other punishment for missing jury duty.
The Attorney General’s Office received a report from the Administrative Office of the Courts for the West Virginia Judiciary regarding scam calls for the circuit courts in Putnam, Preston, Nicholas and Wood counties.
“These calls can be unnerving,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “No one wants to get tangled up in legal issues, however it’s crucial to call local authorities when you receive such a call.”
In those cases, the scammer would call consumers, claiming they have missed jury duty and payment needs to be made to avoid arrest.
“Scammers are constantly devising new schemes to scare consumers into giving them their money,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “If you get a suspicious call, even if it comes from a number that looks legitimate, don’t feel pressured to act immediately. Pause and give our office a call—it might save you from potentially being scammed.”
Scammers have been known to pose as federal marshals and/or local law enforcement. They often attempt to boost their credibility by spoofing official phone numbers, stealing badge numbers and misrepresenting themselves as named police officers.
Consumers can do a few things to avoid falling prey:
- Be wary of any demand for payment via prepaid card or wire transfer.
- Never share personal information without verifying the identity of the recipient.
- Don’t trust a name or number just because it appears on caller ID.
- Be suspicious of off-hour phone calls and those from an unidentified number.
- Listen for inaccuracies as scammers may misrepresent a judge’s title and/or indicate the court is located where none exists.
Residents who receive a call like this should call their local circuit clerk’s office, sheriff’s office and/or federal courthouse to verify if they missed a jury summons.
Anyone who believes they may have been affected by this scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808, or visit the office online at www.ago.wv.gov.