The St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department is warning the public about a scam after several area residents called voicing their concerns.
St. Francois County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Lt. Greg Armstrong said they received several inquiries on Thursday from area residents who were contacted by phone by someone claiming to be a deputy with the sheriff’s department.
“The caller explains to the person they called that they ‘failed to show up for jury duty’ and they need to report to the sheriff’s office immediately and pay a $500 fine or be arrested and jailed,” Armstrong explained. “The phone number appears as though the call is originating from a local number.”
Armstrong said at some point in the conversation the caller will tell the person to go to Walgreen’s and purchase a Green Dot Card in order to pay the fine.
“The public needs to be aware that these calls are not originating from this agency, and are most definitely a scam,” said Armstrong. “Our office would never call and demand that a fine be paid by phone using a money transfer card or by any other means for that matter. The public is urged to hang up on the caller and not give any personal information or confirm any personal information that the caller may already know.”
He said they have had scams like this in the past and it pops up every once in a while. These scammers will spoof a number so it looks like it’s a local number.
“I also had a few calls this week of people getting calls supposedly from the IRS and they owe a tax bill,” Armstrong said. “They want them to get a gift card or a Green Dot Card to pay it immediately or the police will come arrest them.”
Armstrong said these scams make their rounds through the area and fortunately they aren’t spoofing their number specifically this time, but they have done that in the past.
“The reports I received yesterday are coming from a 573 number and the calls are not originating with us,” Armstrong stressed. “That is not how we do business here. Although we deliver the notices for jury duty, if they show up, fine, but if they don’t, the court deals with it. We don’t call people and say you failed to appear to and you have to pay a fine.”
Armstrong said it appears they are targeting all ages and people need to be aware that this is a scam. He said if anyone receives a call like this just hang up and if they continue to call, block their number.
“Definitely don’t give them any personal information, even if they know a little bit of information don’t confirm it,” Armstrong said. “Don’t give them any person identifiers, Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers or anything financial related. Most definitely don’t send them money or get them a prepaid card.
He added people who are targeted can report it to their local police department, but most likely the calls aren’t even originating in this country, so there won’t be much they can do about it. The best thing anyone can do is hang up and not take the call.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org