Sophisticated phone scam targets jury duty list


November 20, 2008 at 11:38 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Mike was seated at home about to relax and watch his favorite T.V. program when he got a call that forced him to leave the luxury of his special recliner and head for the phone.

When the retired auto-mechanic picked up, the person on the other end told him that he had failed to report for jury duty. Not only was Mike now worried about having to actually make up that appearance, but the voice on the line told him that a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

As the 70-year-old recovered from the shock, the person hit him with several rapid-fire questions to take advantage of his current state. The voice ask Mike for his full name, Social Security number and other private information.

Mike gave in and made a mistake. Now, he is paying a price, quite literally, because the con man can use this information to buy a new car and even a home.

All of the information Mike gave can be used by identity thieves to steal his identity.

Similar scams like that are popping up all across the nation and have been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington State. In fact, the crime is so serious that the FBI and U.S. Courts are warning consumers to be alert for the scam.

In reality though, court workers will never call you to ask for social security numbers and other private information.
“In the 30 years I’ve been here, we’ve never called and asked someone for their social security number,” Clerk of Court Charles Oubre said.

Oubre said that people are notified about jury duty through the mail, and that’s how they’re notified if they miss duty and have a warrant for their arrest. At no point will someone from the court system call and contact someone who has missed jury duty.

Another con man favorite is the 809 Area Code Scam, which preys upon residents unfamiliar with the complexities of the phone system. Most people believe that when they use a standard area code to call a number, they are calling someone located in the United States or Canada. However, some foreign territories and countries, such as the Dominican Republic or the British Virgin islands, also have assigned area codes.

The scam starts when a person receives a call or text that tells them they have won a sweepstakes or that a family member is ill or injured. The scammers leave a number beginning with a 809 area code, and when the victim calls, they are connected to a fax machine or a lengthy recorded message to keep them on the phone as long as possible.

The problem with that phone call is that the scammer’s foreign phone company then bills the victim via his local phone company, splitting the money collected with the scammers and leaving the victim little or no recourse since the foreign phone company operates outside U.S. jurisdiction.

Phone giant AT&T has issued a press release on their Web site to warn people about the scam. They say that residents should only return calls from numbers that contain familiar or recognizable area codes. Also, residents should carefully review their bill to discover if there are any unwarranted charges.




View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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