Chesco sheriff: Beware of jury-duty scam

Don’t provide any information to callers pretending to be from the Chester County Sheriff’s Office and questioning residents’ failure to appear for jury service, said Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn "Bunny" Welsh issues warning about jury-duty scam.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn "Bunny" Welsh issues warning about jury-duty scam.

Bogus calls to county residents, claiming to come from the Sheriff’s Office, note failure to report for jury duty, resulting in the threat of an arrest warrant. The caller instructs residents to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card for several hundred dollars to suspend the arrest warrant, and threatens that failure to purchase a debit card will result in an arrest, a Sheriff’s Office press release said.

“Residents should be aware that the court or the Sheriff’s Office would never contact a person via telephone or email to demand payment of a fine to avoid being arrested for failure to appear for jury service,” Welsh said in the release. “Individuals who fail to appear for jury service may receive a letter from the court with a date to appear and explain to a judge why they failed to appear, but they would never receive this communication in a telephone call.”

Welsh said her office has received six to seven complaints a day in the past week, and she has heard that residents in other counties are experiencing the same scam. She said only a judge can require people to pay a fine for failing to appear for jury service, and this may occur only after a resident have been given the opportunity to explain themselves in open court.

Anyone receiving a call like this should not provide any requested information, and instead should hang up and contact his or her local police department, the Chester County Jury Services Office at 610-344-6174, or the Chester County Sheriff’s Office at 610-344-6850. Residents with caller ID should write down the phone number so they can provide it to authorities, Welsh said.

Residents can also visit the Federal Trade Commission website at https://www.ftc.gov to make a complaint and to receive more information on how to avoid and identify scams.

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