Jury Scam Tricks Victims Into Paying Up To $3,000

By Shawn Chitnis

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Adam County Sheriff’s Office warned the public about a growing scam in the Denver metro area, tricking people into thinking they missed a summons for jury duty and now there is a warrant out for their arrest unless they pay a bond for up to $3,000.

“I received a voicemail when I got back to my desk on Dec. 28 from a Deputy Donovan saying that I had missed a summons and that I had a bench warrant issued,” said Cheryl Read.

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She’s a former dispatcher and her husband is a police officer.

She knew this didn’t seem right but was still concerned about the potential consequences for skipping jury duty. There is in fact a Deputy Donovan with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

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Cheryl Read (credit: CBS)

This has been an ongoing scam for almost a year with multiple agencies in Colorado seeing the same pattern, according to the sheriff’s office. Someone is researching actual names of law enforcement officers and looking up important personal information on their potential victims. The scam artists asked Read to use a Green Dot prepaid card to pay a fine of $1,500. She says they also told her what local stores carry the cards.

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“We are very, very concerned of the impact that this has on the community,” said Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh. “And really the impact that it has on law enforcement.”

Not only did they tell Read her correct address and the name of an actual deputy in Adams County, they also gave her the name of a judge and made up more details about when she needed to appear in court.

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“You were supposed to appear on Dec. 18 and you didn’t and this summons was sent out on November whatever. He had actual dates,” said Read.

The scam artists also told her to meet her at the sheriff’s office headquarters in the lobby. She says they were aggressive and threatening over the phone.

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“If you don’t call me back by 3:00 p.m., we’re going to send officers, dispatch them to arrest you, and pull you over,” Read recalled from the phone call.

While the sheriff’s office does enforce warrants out for anyone’s arrest, McIntosh says there is a process in place to get someone back in court to serve jury duty that never requires such legal action.

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Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh (credit: CBS)

“I can’t remember in my 30 years of law enforcement, ever, seeing a warrant issued for jury duty,” he said.

McIntosh explained the appeal of the prepaid card is the ability to quickly get that money into another account without leaving much of a trace. It’s a scam that has more than a dozen cases recorded in and around Adams County.

“They can immediately get the money transferred into whatever account they need it transferred to,” said McIntosh.

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The sheriff’s office says law enforcement will never ask you to use a prepaid card nor will they collect sensitive payment information over the phone. If you have any questions, call a law enforcement agency with the publicly listed numbers and report any scam phone calls you receive to the local agency someone claims they’re representing.

In one case, a scam artist actually called the law enforcement officer he was pretending to be over the phone. Instead of trying to get out of the call or admitting that he had been caught, he challenged the actual officer on the call.

“This guy was incredibly aggressive with our commander,” said the sheriff. “‘No you’re not commander so and so, I am, and we will make an arrest.’”

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.