People around North Texas have been getting phone calls saying they face federal charges for missing jury duty and are being ordered to federal court to pay some hefty fines. But NBC 5 Responds discovers why you shouldn't pay.
"My name is Jimmy Morgan, sir. I'm with the federal marshal's office," says a voice coming through a phone call to Shane Carpenter.
Carpenter says the call gave him chills.
"I panicked. I couldn't, couldn't think at the moment," Carpenter said.
His employer records all his phone calls and captured this one where a man says two warrants had been issued for his arrest.
They asked for almost $2,000 in fees and federal charges for failing to appear in court for jury duty.
"I have been having issues receiving my mail, so that's the first thing I thought of when he told me that I didn't receive a jury summons," Carpenter said.
The caller wanted Carpenter to show up at the actual federal courthouse with $2,000 in U.S. Treasury bonds.
The caller said that Carpenter would give a full refund of the amount of the fine back.
Carpenter called police and the court clerk, who told him it was a scam even though he was told to come to the actual federal building.
Even though the courthouse told Carpenter don't fall for it, he still worried. They had his personal info and wanted him to come to a real office. But that's the whole point – to raise doubt and hope you are scared into meeting them and forking over the cash.
"They didn't win this situation. They didn't scam me. They didn't get any money out of me. I may have fell for it at first, but I knew it was a scam," Carpenter said.
He turned over the recording to police, who are investigating, but there were several red flags in that call to pay attention to:
- If you miss jury duty you'll be ordered back to court. Only there, standing before a judge, will you get a possible fine.
- Fines aren't refundable, and anyone who says, "Give us money, and we'll give you a check back for the same amount," is usually up to no good.
- The costs were just too high. If an amount seems outrageous, hang up and look up the number yourself. Then call them back.