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Scare-Tactic Jury Scam Returns to Granite State

Consumer advocates are warning Granite Staters to beware of scam phone calls that claim there's a warrant out for your arrest for missing jury duty. (Ammodramus/wikimediia)
Consumer advocates are warning Granite Staters to beware of scam phone calls that claim there's a warrant out for your arrest for missing jury duty. (Ammodramus/wikimediia)
October 12, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. - As kids are out searching for the scariest Halloween costumes, local consumer watchdogs warn that a scary scam is back in the Granite State that works by striking fear into adults.

Retired FBI agent Bob Denz, now a volunteer fraud-fighter with AARP New Hampshire, said this scam usually starts with a phone call. The fraudster will claim to be an official, such as a court clerk or law enforcement person. The initial aim of the call is to frighten the person who answers the phone.

"The favorite pitch is, 'I have a summons for your arrest for nonappearance for jury duty.' This gets the victim's attention," Denz said. "He or she is worried, not thinking straight."

One way to tell that these calls are scams is that they often come after business hours, so the person who gets the call can't contact the courthouse right away to check. Another is that the scammer will claim you can pay up right away to avoid arrest, and even use a gift card.

Whenever you get a call like this, Denz said, always take a deep breath and slow down because the fraudster is playing off your fear - and your natural desire to want to get out of a jam.

"One thing, wants to prove to the caller that you got the wrong guy! So he readily gives up personal information - Social Security, credit card, bank numbers and so forth," Denz said. "These are the scams that 'rush-rush.' We always say in one of those scams, 'Slow up; don't panic.' "

Denz said scammers take all sorts of approaches, and as Halloween approaches, people should beware of the Jury Duty Scam.

"It's what we call a 'scare-tactic scam,' " he said, "as compared to the 'nice guy scam' - the guy who says, 'I'm your friend, you can trust me,' while he has his hand on your wallet."

Denz said real jury summonses most often arrive by mail, and Granite Staters should be aware that scammers also know how to fool your caller ID, to make it appear the call is coming from a courthouse.

More information on the scam is online at blog.aarp.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH