Police said a phone scammer started targeting Delaware County residents this week with a con involving jury duty fines.
According to a news release from the city of Powell, a man posing as a court official contacted at least three city residents Wednesday, Feb. 5, and accused them of missing jury duty in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. The man then demanded between $500 and $825 in “fines” that allegedly must be paid in the next few hours.
The scammer reportedly advised callers a judge could refund their payment if they made an appearance in court after making the payment.
Powell city spokeswoman Megan Canavan said one victim did transfer slightly more than $500 to the scammer. She said Powell police will work with financial institutions involved to attempt to find out more about the suspect.
“They’re actively working on trying to track down where the money was sent to,” Canavan said.
She said this scammer does not seem to be targeting the elderly, unlike some other scams.
“They’re targeting different age groups,” Canavan said. “There really isn’t any pattern we’re seeing right now.”
Tracy Whited, community relations officer for the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, said court officials reached out to the sheriff’s office Thursday, Feb. 6, after multiple concerned residents called the court to see if they actually owed a fine. She said the sheriff’s office is reaching out to those individuals and launching an investigation.
Canavan said none of the other local agencies the Powell police checked with reported a scam involving jury duty occurring in their jurisdictions.
Delaware police Capt. Adam Moore said his department had not received reports of a jury duty scam, but it had received similar complaints. He said a Delaware woman received a call recently from outside the country, and a scammer told her she had a warrant out for her arrest and had to transfer a certain amount of money to make it go away.
Moore said anyone who receives a suspicious phone call from someone purporting to be affiliated with a law enforcement agency should take precautions.
“I would suggest that they graciously end the call and then contact their local law enforcement agency,” he said.
Moore added that real law enforcement officers will be understanding if residents want to call a department’s main dispatch to verify their identity before speaking with them.
Powell police advised residents not to give out personal information over the phone unless they initiated the call.
Canavan said anyone who received a similar call should call Powell police at 614-885-3374.