September 29, 2016, update: Jury duty scams continue to spread across Texas. A Houston attorney was a recent victim of the fraud, sending $1,000 to scammers after he received a message claiming there were warrants out for his arrest for missing jury duty. Read more in the ABA Journal.
Earlier: Counties across Texas are reporting recent attempts where scammers call individuals and accuse them of missing jury duty. They then demand that the victims pay a hefty fine over the phone. The callers, however, are not affiliated with a court and are simply trying to trick the victims into giving them money.
Fort Bend County’s website is alerting people that “identity thieves have … asked for confidential information and claimed to be with County District Clerk’s Offices.” But the county warns, “these scammers are threatening jurors in an attempt to fraudulently receive money. Do not give them money or credit card information. The staff of the Fort Bend County District Clerk’s Office will never call you and ask for your Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information.”
Meanwhile, the same scam is targeting residents of Dallas County. NBC DFW reported on March 18 that officials were investigating an incident where a man was conned out of $16,000 over the phone because the caller said he was a Sheriff’s deputy collecting fines for missed jury duty. The Sheriff’s Department estimates about a dozen similar victims this year, many of whom are reporting that the scammers are very smooth, often say that driving licenses are going to be suspended if they don’t pay, know actual judges’ names, and that the phone numbers show up on caller ID as a Sheriff’s Department number. Losses have ranged from $500 to several thousand to the $16,000.
The Richmond Police Department is looking into complaints where scammers say the person has an active warrant, a missed court date, or missed jury duty and will be sent to jail if the fine isn’t paid. A few months earlier, McLennan County warned citizens of similar scams. KXXV reported that the victims are often elderly and worry that they might have somehow missed jury duty even though they don’t remember having been summoned. News reports indicate that such missed jury duty scams have been going on in Texas for several years.
If you receive a suspicious call, do not give your information out over the phone. Call your local law enforcement.