More victims, new warning in Smith Co. jury duty scam - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

More victims, new warning in Smith Co. jury duty scam

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An empty jury box inside a Smith County courtroom. An empty jury box inside a Smith County courtroom.

More victims are coming forward after losing money in the Smith County jury duty scam. The total has risen to six people.

All of them have lost money to a man posing as a county worker and telling people they'll get in trouble for missing jury duty unless they go and buy a prepaid money card and turn it over to him.

Jury duty is one of those certainties in life, and you can be equally certain that when Smith County's central jury room fills up each week it's always missing some of the people who got the infamous yellow summons in the mail. But if you're one of those missing people, a phone call is unlikely.

"We do not collect money for that by phone," Smith County Sheriff's Department Spokesperson John Moore said. "No agency does that."

In fact, Moore said you'd be more likely to get a knock at the door.

"I have seen from personal experience when I was at jury duty where someone was there in the morning and they weren't there after the break and they did send someone after them," Moore said. "So they do take it seriously."

And yet at least six people have been fooled into buying prepaid debit cards and then handing over the numbers to a thief thinking the alternative is jail time.

Earlier this week a Whitehouse police officer discovered the first known victim of this scam during a traffic stop.

The driver inside was on his cell phone and he didn't want to hang up because the man on the other end was giving him directions on where to go and how to pay for missing jury duty. But to the officer it just didn't add up. So he took the phone and then asked who was on the other end of the line.

The scammer was bold enough to say he was a federal agent and that the officer should let the man go.

The officer did let the man go with two warnings: One for the traffic stop and a big one about the scam.

Most of the prepaid cards are being bought at local pharmacies. At least one store manager said the scam, unfortunately, is no surprise.

"I've stopped three of them," Walgreens Manager Jared Stevens said. "They're most of the time elderly customers. They come in and they say that they've won a contest."

As of Wednesday evening there were no warrants out for people who have missed jury duty in Smith County. Moore cautioned that warrants for failure to appear at jury duty could be issued at any time, depending on the circumstances involved.

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