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Officials Warn Of Jury Service Scam

MADERA COUNTY Just when you thought you had heard enough of scams, here comes another one – threatening you with jail.

Both the Sheriff and the District Attorney have issued a fraud alert to citizens in both Madera and its neighboring counties – “If you get a call from anyone claiming to represent the Madera County Sheriff’s Department concerning a jury summons, hang up and notify your local authorities.”

The way the scam works is that you receive a phone call from a person identifying themselves to you as a sheriff’s deputy or court bailiff. This caller tells you that you have missed jury duty and an arrest warrant has been issued for you.

They may also tell you that they need your personal information to match it to the arrest warrant; ie. name, date of birth, social security number, etc.

Once they have “verified” that you in fact are the person named in the arrest warrant, the caller will say you that you can avoid being arrested by paying the bail or the fine.

Once you have agreed to pay the fine, additional information will be asked in order to obtain credit card information.

In one case, a Fresno man received a call from the phone number 559-267-6565. A man on the other end identified himself as Lt. Dale Simmons, with the Madera County Sheriff’s Department.

The caller threatened the victim with arrest, telling him he had 45 minutes to pay a fine for failing to appear for jury duty. He ordered the victim to load $3,999 on a pre-paid money card.

Deputies called the number and a female answered, identifying herself as Patricia Owens, and stating, “Madera County Sheriff’s Department, Warrants Division.”

The cell number is supposedly registered to an address in Raymond, Calif. However, the calls are coming from the state of Georgia.

Sheriff John Anderson says if you receive a cold call from anyone claiming to be a court official or sheriff’s deputy, regarding a jury duty summons or a warrant issued for your arrest, hang up immediately and contact your local law enforcement agency.

To avoid this jury duty scam, District Attorney Michael Keitz reminds citizens:

• If you have missed jury duty, the courts will usually send you a notice to appear in court.
• Sheriff’s deputies or sheriff’s bailiffs will not ask for personal information or seek payment for fines over the phone.
• Never agree to send money to someone who you did not anticipate asking for the money.
• You should never share personal information, such as your social security number or bank account number with anyone who contacts you.

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