DA warns of jury duty scam

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch is urging Sonoma County residents to be aware of a telephone scam occurring throughout Sonoma County, including several reported Sonoma Valley incidents.

The shakedown works like this: a person calls and states he is from the Jury Commissioner’s Office, or the Sheriff’s Office, and says the victim failed to report for jury duty. To avoid an arrest warrant for failing to honor the jury summons, the con man instructs the victim to purchase a prepaid debit card for several hundred dollars to suspend the warrant.

The entire ploy is a scripted scam. No police officer or court or jury service personnel will ever call you and demand money, Ravitch said. “If you get such a phone call, hang up,” Ravitch said. “Never provide prepaid debit card numbers over the phone to people you do not know.

The scammers are hard to catch. Once a PIN number to the debit card is released, the money can be collected by the criminal in an untraceable transaction. The victim is out the money without recourse.

Under the official procedure, Ravitch said, if you receive a jury summons and do not appear, you will receive a letter from the jury service office in the mail with another summons to appear for jury duty. After a failure to appear, a potential juror would only be faced with the possibility of a fine that would be imposed in court by a judge.

To verify any correspondence or communication from the jury service office, call the 707.521.6640.


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