Action 9

Authorities warn of scam calls over missed court dates

CHARLOTTE — Action 9 has warned you about scams like this in the past, but they keep popping up; scam callers are pretending to be law enforcement officers and claiming victims missed a court date.

A woman from south Charlotte almost fell for one of these scams, but she’s sharing her story as a warning for other potential victims.

The way it works is simple -- someone calls you and pretends to be a court official, they say you missed jury duty and now have two options: pay a fine or face arrest. Usually, these scammers pretend to be with state courts, according to Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke, but this time, Carrie Person says the caller claimed to be with a federal court.

“He said, ‘OK, well were you aware that on May 15, you were issued a federal jury summons and you didn’t show up in court?’ and I said, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Pierson told Stoogenke. She said the caller then told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest.

Pierson believed them because the caller knew her name, her address, and her phone number. She said the call was “so well crafted.”

She said the scammer told her she could pay her way out of the situation for $900, but at that point, Pierson grew skeptical. So she went to the federal court in Uptown Charlotte to check in person, but it was a Saturday.

“Nothing was open,” Pierson said. “I was still sort of panicked that I might be arrested and I didn’t really know what was going on.”

Pierson said she finally ended up calling 911.

“The 911 operator, I tried to tell her immediately that it wasn’t an emergency, that I’m really sorry. She said that she thought this was a scam,” Pierson said.

The dispatcher transferred her to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, which confirmed it was a scam.

Even though she caught the scam before losing her money, the call left a lasting impression on her.

“I didn’t really have the ability to talk about it for like two days though, because it was just so much stress and anxiety,” Pierson said.

Here are the facts about missing jury duty. If you do miss your date, the court will mail you a letter -- no one will call you. You’ll usually get a second chance, and you’ll never have to pay a fine without a hearing first. If you miss the hearing, then you could face a penalty, but it’s never the first step.

So if you get one of these calls, hang up, and you can report it to the Attorney General’s office.

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