The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is once again reminding residents to be aware of an ongoing jury duty scam. Officers said they have received multiple reports from local citizens who have received phone calls from scammers over the Christmas holidays attempting to take their money.
Officers are concerned about the volume of calls being made by the scammers and because they are using the names of real officers on the department. The scammers are also spoofing the caller ID to make it appear the call is originating from the Sheriff’s Office. Although it isn’t a sheriff’s office number, it is spoofed to appear to be coming from the 919 area code.
Deputies say when they call back the phone numbers, they were surprised to find, in some cases, a person answering the phone or a recorded voice message, stating it is the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office in Smithfield.
In all of the scam calls reported to authorities, the suspects have been using the names of real officers. In many cases they claim they are Lt. Ryan Benson, an officer with the department for more than 20 years.
Callers are told they failed to show up for jury duty and a warrant has been issued for their arrest. They are instructed to obtain pre-paid credit cards and provide the card numbers so the warrant can be retracted. The callers are authoritative and often sound convincing. In some cases they agree to meet at the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield to accept payment, only to change their story and say they must pay over the telephone.
Sheriff’s officials say this is a widespread scam and that law enforcement will never ask anyone to pay money over the telephone or pay with a pre-paid card only.
Last month, a Clayton woman lost $1,500 after falling victim to the scam. Authorities are alarmed by the sheer volume of scam calls being received locally and are concerned unsuspecting victims could fall victim.
If you receive a call from a scammer demanding money for a jury duty warrant or for any other fraudulent activity, you can report it to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000 or your nearest law enforcement agency.