Marshal warns of jury duty phone scam

The Coupeville Marshal and Island County Sheriff’s Office are warning residents of a phone scam that duped at least one local woman out of $750.

Marshal Chris Garden said Wednesday that his office has received quite a few reports about phone calls claiming the person has a warrant for their arrest because they skipped jury duty.

“They will attempt to convince you that there are warrants and that law enforcement is on their way to your house,” Garden said. “They will suggest you can avoid all of this if you post an ‘appearance bond’ for each warrant.”

Garden said at least one woman locally has been swindled so far.

In a detailed account to police, the Coupeville woman told Garden the caller had so many specifics such as the name of the court, judge, sheriff and other “officers” involved.

“It’s much more specific,” Garden said. “Knowing every detail makes it really convincing.”

The scammers also provided several phone numbers for fake bond companies that couldn’t process her payment for varying technical difficulties. The scammers convinced the woman to buy money packs, or gift cards, and make the $750 payment.

The woman called the “company” and gave them the card numbers and in return they gave her “PIN” numbers to take to the courthouse the following Tuesday to schedule a court date and refund of the bond.

While they waited, the woman told Garden that her husband ran into a neighbor who had received the same kind of call, but was “smart enough to check with the sheriff’s office before losing any money.”

“Thinking back, of course I missed all kinds of red flags, but I know so little about the arrest/bond process and they were quite smooth,” the woman wrote in her account.

But this woman isn’t the only one being convinced.

Deputy Marshal Leif Haugen reported to Garden that a man went into Walgreen’s, also trying to buy money packs, thinking his wife had a warrant.

Employees at the store recognized it was a scam and persuaded the man not to follow through, Garden said.

The marshal’s office also received a report last Wednesday that someone received the call and when the person confronted them, accusing the caller of trying to scam them, the caller got me mad.

“They’re really being jerks, trying to bully people into paying,” Garden said.

So if you receive a similar call, what should you do?

Contact your local law enforcement and court offices, Garden said. Courts don’t issue warrants to people who don’t show up for jury duty.

“If someone asks you to get an iTunes card, question the legitimacy.”

With it being tax season, local law enforcement are also seeing an increase in IRS scam calls.

“The IRS will never send police to your door,” Garden said.

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