Action 9: Jury scam is widespread

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Authorities are warning of a jury duty scam. 
 
Con artists faking as court officials call a victim saying the person missed jury duty and they need to pay or face being arrested. 
 
A Charlotte woman who asked to remain anonymous said the call seemed legitimate.
 
"It alarmed me. Upset me," she said.
 
She missed jury duty once before and was afraid she had done it again. 
 
"I don't break the law deliberately. I usually toe the line and do what I'm required and expected to do," she said.
 
She said the caller told her she missed jury duty recently, was charged with failure to appear and contempt of court, had to pay more than $400 and could do that with a pre-paid debit card.
 
"I don't have money lying around like that," she said.
 
In February, Eyewitness News reported about a similar scam in Cabarrus County. 
 
Sheriff Brad Riley sent out a warning, saying scammers were telling people they missed jury duty and to pay $700 to avoid arrest.
 
The National Center for State Courts is tracking this scam and are asking people who have come across it recently to email the group. 
 
In an email to Action 9, it called the con a widespread problem.
 
Mecklenburg County's lead jury coordinator Elizabeth Wilhelm said if you miss jury duty:

  • You'll get a letter by mail, not a phone call
  • You'll usually get a second chance, no penalty
  • You'll never have to pay a fine without a hearing first
  • The bill will be $50, not in the hundreds
  • If you miss that hearing then you could face pricier penalties or jail time but it's never the first step.

 
"Overall, it's scary because it's something you want to make sure you're doing the right thing," Wilhelm said. "We do get calls about this and first thing I ask is, 'You didn't give them any money did you?' because I'm concerned that they actually went for it."
 
The Charlotte woman didn't fall for the scam and called police. 
 
She was suspicious because she thought she was too old for jury duty. 
 
For questions about the scam, call 704-686-0199.

If you've been ripped off, overbilled or misled; or if you see something that is hurting all consumers, contact Action 9.