Andrew Dys

York Co. phone scam: You're fined for not showing for jury duty


A.B. Edwards has been around a while. The 70-year-old Rock Hill man didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

He also did not get scammed by a jury duty telephone con man – and he wants others to be wary, too.

On Monday, Edwards was called by someone claiming to be a York County deputy who told him that if he didn’t pay $1,000 in fines for not showing up for jury duty, that he would be handcuffed, arrested and locked up.

Edwards did not fall for the scam.

“They made all kinds of claims,” Edwards said. “Told me I had to go to the drug store and get two $500 (prepaid) cards for them, he called them electronic money vouchers, then call them and tell them when I was there.

“I could have ended up with a gun in my back telling me to ‘Stick ’em, up.’ ”

Edwards would certainly have given any con man a run for his money, but police want law enforcement officers to handle any complaints. York County cops say any phone call, such as the one Edwards received is a scam – and the recipient should immediately call police.

“We never, ever, call anyone for anything for jury duty,” said Trent Faris, spokesman for the York County Sheriff’s Office.

The call appeared to have come from an 803 area code, but Faris said scammers can use technology to make the call seem local when it is not. Other scams have included claims that a family member is jailed overseas, and other hustles.

The jury duty scam has been seen in other parts of the country and now has hit close to home. The scams have become so prevalent around the country that earlier this year the FBI issued a warning about it.

The federal government and local police say that any such call is a fake and fraudulent, and Faris urged anyone who gets one to call deputies so that a report can be taken.

What to do when you get ‘the call’

▪ Resist the pressure to act quickly and don’t panic – The caller may turn abusive and threaten you that an officer will be at your door in an hour, hang up then call your local police agency.

▪ Trust your instincts – If you know you aren’t in trouble or don’t have a warrant for your arrest you probably don’t. Also tell the scammer that you will call them back after you have done your own research into their claims.

▪ Don’t rely on caller ID – Scam artists often times use technology to make it appear their calls are coming from a local law enforcement agency or legitimate business.

▪ Listen closely – If a caller uses poor grammar or has a heavy accent, be on alert. Many fraudulent calls originate overseas.

▪ Never wire or mail money – Wiring money is like giving away cash – once you send it, you can’t get it back. Some scammers will ask you to put money on a prepaid card from a local pharmacy or convenience store.

▪ Protect your identity – Never give your Social Security number or credit card information over the phone.

▪ Don’t call back – If you believe a scammer has left a message on your phone, do not call back. The con-artists will attempt to make the caller send cash, money order or MoneyPak Green Card to an address.

Source: York County Sheriff’s Office

Types of telephone fraud

Scammers use exaggerated or even fake prizes, products or services as bait. Some might call you, but others will use mail, texts or ads to get you to call them for more details. Here are a few examples of threats or offers you might hear:

▪ IRS – You owe taxes or have to pay penalties.

▪ Using the names and titles of actual police officers.

▪ You missed jury duty or court.

▪ Computer technical support.

▪ Free travel packages.

▪ Final notice to extend car warranties.

▪ Easy money credit or cash loans.

▪ Charitable causes – urgent requests for disaster relief efforts.

▪ Foreign lotteries.

▪ “Free” trial offers.

▪ Fake bank alert messages.

▪ Vote from your phone. This is not possible and illegal.