CLINTON (WATE) – An Anderson County mother of three wishes she had never answered the phone after getting a call from a man who claimed he was with the U.S. Marshal’s office. The caller said the young woman was in trouble and a lot of money was lost.
Jury duty scams involving local courts are common. In the past, people said they represented the clerk’s office and that you’d missed jury duty. A new twist of the cam sounds more ominous. The call is supposedly from the U.S. Marshal and the message is you missed jury duty for U.S. Federal Court.
Jessica and her mother-in-law Marvell, neither of whom wanted their last names published, get along very well and have a lot in common. Their husbands have the same name but different middle initials. Jessica’s husband is Marvell’s son.
Marvell got a strange call late last month. She said the man who claimed he was with the government needed to speak with Jessica.
“I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t live here.’ He said he really needed to get in touch with her,” said Marvell.
She gave the guy her daughter-in-law’s number and then called her son, Jessica’s husband.
“I said, ‘There is a U.S. Deputy Marshal trying to reach Jessica.’ I said he was nice but he was very business-like; he was very believable,” Marvell said.
While Marvell was talking to her son, Jessica received a call from the guy who said he was with the U.S. court with the Marshal’s office. He gave his badge number and said she was in “trouble.” He told Jessica she was to have reported for jury duty in August at the U.S. Federal Court in Knoxville, but never showed up and was subject to a big fine.
“He scared me with the fact that I was in big trouble. And he said if I hung up the phone, I would be a flight risk and someone from Anderson County sheriff would come and pick me up. And it caught me very off guard,” Jessica said.
The caller said $1,775 would get her out of trouble. Jessica said she was instructed to buy prepaid cards, which she did, then call back to give the scammer the numbers. Once she did that, she couldn’t get the money back.
“He played on my fears and I gave him the money. It is embarrassing,” Jessica said.
She was caught off guard with the prospect of a warrant being issued for her arrest, but the the real local U.S. Marshal’s office is familiar with the scam. They’re quick to point out that no federal court or U.S. Marshal’s office will ever call prospective jurors asking for money or any personal information over the phone.
“I want other people to know when they call, to not be scared and to hang up,” said Jessica.
Jury duty is a vital civic responsibility, but it’s a crime for anyone to falsely represent themselves as a federal court official. If you get one of these calls, report it to the U.S. Marshals or FBI office with any available caller ID information.