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Utah court officials warn of jury duty phone scams

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Posted at 5:25 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 19:35:12-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Court officials are warning the public of a scam targeting Utahns.

Utah Courts said local law enforcement agencies have sent them reports of the jury duty scam recently. It involves a person calling the victim on the phone, posing as law enforcement and threatening them with contempt of court for failure to report for jury duty. The scammer often has access to the victims' personal information, including their address and information about recent moves.

They may even use the real name of a police officer and make the caller ID look like it's coming from a law enforcement agency.

The scammers have been telling victims that there is a warrant for their arrest unless they pay a fine over the phone — often insisting they use pre-paid cards, wire transfers, gift cards or even dropping cash off at a physical location.

The court system assures Utahns that they would never make such threats, especially over the phone. Jury service communication is generally done by mail, and they say they would never ask Utah residents to pay fines over the phone.

"We will never have law enforcement contact you about a failure to appear for jury duty, and never threaten over the phone with arrest or jail time," the court system wrote in a press release.

Instead, someone who fails to show up for jury duty would be mailed a failure to appear notice, and after that, a summons for an "order to show cause" hearing would be mailed if they were to not respond to the first notice.

The announcement added that while jury trials are mostly on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Utahns may still receive a jury questionnaire. They ask that it still be filled out and returned for when jury trials resume.

Anyone who believes they are on the phone with someone attempting such a scam is advised to call their local police.