Expert warns Utah residents about scam calls regarding jury duty, the IRS

Posted at 9:47 PM, Mar 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-04 23:47:58-05

UTAH COUNTY -- Utah officials are warning residents about a couple of phone scams making the rounds in the Beehive State.

Sgt. Scott Finch works at the Utah County Attorney’s Office, so he was well-prepared for the call he got recently.

“I talked with an individual that said that I had a warrant for my arrest for missing jury duty earlier in the month,” Finch said.

Finch said that individual called him on his home phone and demanded money to satisfy the supposed violation for missing jury duty. He said the scammer even used the name of a real lieutenant.

“He identified himself as Lt. Sean Chipman with the Utah County Sheriff's Office, who is an acquaintance of mine that I know very well," Finch said.

Finch says the man asked for his cell phone number so he could stay on the phone with him while Finch sent money for the alleged warrant.

But Finch knew it was a scam and refused. Still, that didn't stop the caller from making threats.

“He threatened to arrest me, and I said, ‘Go ahead and come on over and arrest me. Or else I can meet you over at the Justice Court’—at which time he hung up," Finch said.

Finch says this jury duty scam has been going around for years. The Utah State Courts released a statement, saying in part:

“The state courts rarely if ever call a potential juror. If a potential juror is contacted, the courts would never request personal identifying information."

Finch said the jury duty scam is similar to the IRS tax scam that's also going around. In each situation the caller asks you to withdraw money and send it somewhere, threatening arrest or other legal consequences if you don't comply.

But there are things you can do to protect yourself:

  • If you can, get the phone number for follow-up
  • Hang up as soon as you can
  • Don't give out personal details or any banking information
  • Notify your local police department or the Attorney General's office, so they can track the scam. Scam reports can be made via the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.