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Some Hoosiers are still falling victim to jury duty phone scams



Indianapolis, Indiana – Although a judge or magistrate may request a justification, neither the police nor a court will make people buy gift cards to get out of it.

Since at least ten years ago, when the federal courts and the FBI first issued warnings about the fraud, it has been a scam that successfully coerces Americans into handing over money.

No one will call you and ask for money over the phone, either; that will never happen, according to Maj. Damian Katt of the Franklin-based Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Some con artists employ spoof phone numbers, which involves using software to get caller IDs on smartphones to show bogus information.

One of those numbers was a fake, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Police reports from two people claim that they paid con artists after verifying the sheriff’s office number.

According to Katt, scammers have access to a wealth of personal data. “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 victims of fraud in Johnson County exchanged money using a nearby merchant.

The court administrator in Hamilton County reported that some victims of scams there lost up to $3,000 and transferred the money using gift cards, payment apps, and the U.S. mobile payment provider Venmo.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office has also alerted citizens to the jury duty scam through social media posts. The blogs advise readers not to give these callers any money in any manner, and they predict that they will try to convince call recipients to give them their gift card details over the phone.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department claims that some of its phone numbers have been faked by the fraudsters.

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 claims that since many of the con artists are calling from outside the state or the country, it is difficult to find them.

“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.

The greatest defense, he claims, is to hang up. To be clear, if you genuinely skip your scheduled jury service, you risk being found in contempt of court, fined, or re-selected for the jury. But neither the police nor a court will contact you.

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