POLK COUNTY, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has a warning to anyone who receives a phone call from someone demanding payment for missing jury duty or be arrested; don’t fall for it.
“If someone calls you and tells you that you will be arrested for missing jury duty unless you pay them some money, hang up, it’s a scam. These unscrupulous people can be very convincing by posing as deputies and making it look like an incoming call is from the Sheriff’s Office that’s how good they are at being bad,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
The most recent reported incident occurred near Winter Haven on June 24, 2022.
According to the would-be victim, she received a phone call from someone saying he was a U.S. Marshal working with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
He told the woman that she had missed jury duty and was now facing arrest unless she withdraws $2,400 from her bank account, drive to CVS, then await further instructions.
The woman got the money, but called the Polk County Sheriff’s Office because something didn’t feel right about it.
In the news: Polk County Sheriff Lakeland Grab-N-Go Gatorade Thief
A PCSO deputy responded and called the scammer’s phone number and discovered that the scammers even went as far as creating a fake PCSO automated answering message.
According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody‘s office, these jury duty scams have also been reported in Citrus County, Collier County, Lake County, and St. Johns County.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- A frequent tactic by scammers is to demand money using gift cards or pre-paid credit cards.
- Scammers tend to be aggressive; their goal is to get your money quickly and often react negatively and pushy when you ask too many questions.
- If you are suspicious about who you are talking to, tell the caller you will hang up and call the main number back. Then go onto the internet and look up the real phone number. For example, if someone tells you they are calling from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, hang up with them and call the PCSO main number (863-298-6200). This way, you know who you are speaking with.
- When in doubt about phone callers asking for money, call the sheriff’s office. A deputy will be happy to help you and keep you from being victimized.