Richmond County Sheriff’s Office: Deputy’s name used in jury duty scam

By: By William R. Toler - Editor

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of another jury duty scam — this time purporting to come from one of their own.

A would-be scammer has been calling both cellphones and land lines claiming to be Capt. Jay Childers, demanding money be paid for missing jury duty, according to Chief Deputy Mark Gulledge.

Childers is captain of investigations with the sheriff’s office.

When calling the number, the voicemail message purports to be from Childers and asks to leave a message and callback number or call 911 for an emergency.

“There will never be a phone call placed over missing jury duty,” Gulledge said Thursday morning.

“If the sitting judge orders a show cause as to why you have missed juty duty, a deputy in uniform would locate (you) in person” and hand-deliver copy with a file number and the date and court in which you would have to appear, he added.

The key point, Gulledge said, is that jury fines are never collected by phone, mail or the sheriff’s office or any other law enforcement agency.

The sheriff’s office had received eight scam reports between Wednesday and late Thursday morning, according to Gulledge, who added the N.C Attorney General’s office and the FBI have been contacted.

Gulledge said the sheriff’s office also made a reverse-911 call, with the help of Emergency Services Director Donna Wright, to warn residents of the scam.

This is the second jury duty scam targeting Richmond County residents this year.

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts issued an alert in February warning that Richmond County residents were being “targeted by scammers via email telling them they have failed to report for jury service and may have to appear in court.”

Richmond County Clerk of Superior Court Vickie Daniel said she received a call from a concerned local business owner reporting the scam. Daniel then notified the state office.

The public is encouraged to report suspicious calls or emails to their local sheriff’s office and victims should report it to the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, according to the alert.

Laura Brewer with the A.G.’s office said earlier this year she doesn’t think jury scams are in the top 10 of complaints received each year, however there were quite a few last year.

Brewer said office records showed 136 jury duty scam reports in 2017. Twenty of those involved victims losing a total of $37,694.

A press release from last April said victims reported losses of about $1,000 each.

The office issued the following tips to help residents protect themselves:

• Real notices for jury duty arrive by mail.

• Legitimate public officials won’t call to threaten you with arrest if you don’t show up for jury duty or fail to pay a fine immediately.

• Hang up on jury duty scammers and other crooks who try to trick you out of your hard-earned money.

• If someone tries to get you to use a prepaid debit card or a gift card to pay money they say you owe them, you are almost certainly being scammed.

• If you get one of these calls, report it to your local police department and file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or completing the form online at www.ncdoj.gov.

Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or wtoler@yourdailyjournal.com.

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By William R. Toler

Editor