Kanawha deputies warn against jury duty scam

Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies are warning against a scam in which a caller pretends to be a police officer requesting money for failed jury duty appearances.

Two people reported getting calls from a man identifying himself as a deputy demanding that they purchase a prepaid card and give the account number or be arrested, Cpl. Brian Humphreys said Tuesday. At least one person has fallen victim to the scam.

The scammer told the person they failed to report for jury duty and a warrant and fine had been issued against them, Humphreys said.

“Please recognize these calls are part of a scam trying to get money from you,” he said.

Kanawha Sheriff’s Detective Jeremy Burns said the alleged scammer is calling from a phone number with a 304 area code; the number has since been disconnected. Two people who received the calls have last names at the beginning of the alphabet, which leads Burns to believe the scammer is using a phone book to pick potential victims.

“The number used is 304-266-1850,” Burns said. “If anyone knows who owns this phone number, please call the sheriff’s department.”

Burns emphasized that no law enforcement officer would request money from a caller in relation to fines or arrest warrants. He has filed a search warrant with the phone carrier attached to the number and is waiting on its return, he said. The search warrant might reveal more information about who the number was registered to or where the calls were made.

Kanawha County Circuit Clerk Cathy Gatson said all jury duty summonses are sent by mail. If people fail to show up to jury duty, the court will call them to ask why. Most of the time, she said, people simply forget.

If people repeatedly fail to show up for jury duty and answer follow up calls, a judge could subpoena them, Gatson said. She said no one would have fines levied against him or her for failed jury duty appearances without an investigation first.

If people believe they have fallen victim to this scam or has information, they are asked to call the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department at 304-357-0169.

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