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Utah Supreme Court warns about jury duty scam

Posted at 9:36 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 23:36:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court is warning people across the state to be on the lookout for a sophisticated scam duping people out of thousands of dollars.

Chad Schaeffer, who lives in Salt Lake City, is one of many victims. He said a man claiming to be with the Unified Police Department called to collect a fine for missing jury duty.

“The number came up, and it said Unified Sheriff’s Department,” Schaeffer said. “You know he identified himself, told me his badge number… I forget the name that he used. I think it was like Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump!”

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The fake cop eventually convinced Schaeffer to buy $5,700 worth of pre-paid gift cards from a local 7-Eleven.

“My whole life savings is gone now,” Schaeffer said. “I felt violated to be quite honest. You know, it wasn’t the money. It was the fact that someone tricked me.”

Schaeffer said the man on the other end of the phone call spoke perfect English and knew his address. He said he believed he wasn’t allowed to pay the fine at the police station due to COVID-19 protocols.

“I just kept asking questions, and he was giving me answers,” Schaeffer said. “The answers made sense to me.”

In an interview with FOX 13, Sheriff Rosie Rivera said these types of scams are especially troubling because of how difficult they are to investigate.

“Sometimes they have a radio going in the background, and it does sound real!” Rivera said. “We’ve had a lot of victims who fall for that — for several thousands of dollars.”

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Rivera said the scam is especially common around the holidays.

Her recommendation is to hang up and call the (real) police immediately if you suspect you might be a victim.

According to the Utah Supreme Court, “jury service communication is typically done by mail” and law enforcement officers will never contact someone about their failure to appear.