A familiar scam seems to have taken on renewed life recently in Statesboro and Bulloch County, as a number of school board employees and local physicians reported receiving calls from people claiming they had missed jury duty.
That is only one example of the official-sounding, but fake, calls people are receiving from scam artists who demand payment of fines via reloadable debit cards, said Bulloch County Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Hutchens.
The sheriff’s office fielded numerous calls several days ago from Bulloch County Board of education employees who received calls from people demanding they either pay up or go to jail. This week, the callers appear to be targeting local physicians, he said.
The scam isn’t new. The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office warned residents in January to beware of the same type calls, which may sound legitimate and intimidating in nature.
A warning appears on the BCSO Facebook page: “We continue to receive reports of scams involving: Craigslist, sweepstakes, warrants, failing to appear for court subpoenas, remote computer repair, etc. If anyone asks for or demands money over the phone, or to be sent via WalMart / Western Union / Gift Cards, please do some research and err on the side of caution.”
Callers, using spoofed or blocked numbers, or even calling from out of the country, will tell a victim they have missed jury duty and must pay a fine or be arrested, he said. They will tell the victim to load the payment on a “Green Dot” or reloadable Visa type debit card, then ask the caller to give them the number with which to access the funds, Hutchens said.
The variations of scam calls are numerous. Some claim victims have won something, but must send money in order to get the winnings. Other calls claim there is something wrong with a victim’s computer, and ask for account information.
If a person is selling an item on Craigslist or another site, the caller may offer to make a payment (with a fraudulent check) exceeding the asking price, but ask the seller to send the difference back to them.
As for the jury scam, “If you missed jury duty or there is a warrant out for you, we won’t be calling you,” Hutchens said. “We will come pick you up and take you to jail.”
Any callers demanding money, especially being paid with a Green Dot or reloadable debit card, is “99 percent a scam,” he said.
These calls can be reported to your local law enforcement, but are more often than not made from numbers that cannot be traced to the caller, or cannot be handled by law enforcement due to the offender being in another country, he said.
Residents receiving these calls may contact the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office to determine whether there is a warrant for their arrest, he said. Call (912) 764-8888 and ask for the Criminal Investigations Division. Hutchens advises against sending any funds to unknown callers, as fines and bonds are not paid in that manner.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.