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Jury duty phone scams still taking cash from some Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Called for jury duty and didn’t show up?

A judge or magistrate may ask someone to give a reason, but neither a police department or a court is going to call and have people buy gift cards to get out of it.

It’s a scam that’s successfully been getting Americans to hand over money at least a decade when the federal courts and the FBI first issued alerts about the scheme.

Maj. Damian Katt of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, based in Franklin, told I-Team 8 on Friday, “Nobody will call and tell you, and then take money over the phone either that will never happen.”

Some scammer spoof phone numbers, which means the scammer used software to trick smartphones caller IDs into displaying false information.

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says one of those spoofed numbers. Two people have filed police reports saying they paid scammers after confirming the sheriff’s office number.

Katt says the scammers also have lots of personal information at their fingertips. “The caller can be very convincing. They will provide personal information that someone might think is not out there and that somebody shouldn’t have unless they are legitimate. They will provide information that makes them sound creditable whether it is from the sheriff’s office or a police department; an officer’s name maybe, throw out a number like a badge number.” 

The two most recent people who were scammed in Johnson County transferred funds through a local retailer. 

In Hamilton County, the court administrator sent a statement to I-Team 8 saying some people who were scammed there have lost up to $3,000 and sent the money through the Venmo, which is a U.S. mobile payment service, and via gift cards and payment apps.

On social media posts, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office also has warned people of the jury duty scam. The posts say to not transfer any money in any form to these callers, and that the callers most likely will attempt to get call recipients to provide gift card numbers over the phone.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department says the scammers have spoofed some of its phone numbers. IMPD Lt. Shane Foley, head of the public affairs division, added that “our dispatch center is getting calls saying, ‘Did you call to report that?’ ‘I missed jury duty,’ and that is one thing that people can do if they have a question about whether or not dispatch is calling them. Hang up and call back. They will be able to tell you, and the answer will be, ‘No we are not calling you.’”

 Major Katt says many of the scammers are calling from out of state or out of the country, tracking them down is tough.  

“Due to technology and the ability to spoof and Wi-Fi numbers on the way they can essentially hide themselves it is very difficult to determine where these are originating” said Katt 

 He says you best defense is to hang up.  To be clear if you really do miss summoned jury duty you could be found in contempt of court and fined or placed back into the jury pool. But the court or police will not call you.