Jury duty phone scam hits Northern Calif.

Woodland – An old phone scam is making its rounds again and could soon be headed to the Sacramento Valley.

A number of California Sheriff's offices have reported a scam where residents receive phone calls from a person claiming to be a sheriff's office employee who demands payment to clear up an outstanding warrant. Victims are being told they did not show up for required jury duty, and as a result, need to immediately pay a fine via a pre-paid credit card transaction or face jail time. The calls originate from a local area code.

Ed Prieto, Yolo County Sheriff, says the calls are fraudulent and have no connection to the sheriff's office or the courts located in their counties. Though the scam itself has not yet been reported in Yolo County, the sheriff wants people to know about it in advance so they don't become a victim.

This version of the scam recently started in Southern California before making its way to the Bay Area.

"You know it's always a bad thing when someone tries to take advantage of our vulnerable citizens," said Larry Cecchettini, a captain with the Yolo County Sheriff's Office. "What we're trying to do is make people aware, so it minimizes the damage to them, as well as the time we're going to have to spend investigating this if this thing gets out of control."

Crooks are encouraging potential victims to purchase a Green Dot pre-paid credit card to pay off the fine, which can be upwards of $500. Green Dot cards can be bought online or at a local grocery store, so the scammers are hoping victims will immediately go out and get one of these cards if they feel threatened enough following a phone call. Once the scammers get their hands on the card number, they can wipe it out without a trace.

If you receive a phone call from someone demanding payment for an outstanding warrant, immediately report the situation to your local law enforcement agency.


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