Thieves are always busy coming up with new ideas to steal your money through deception. A relatively new one has shown up recently - the “Jury Duty” scam. The target audience is the real surprise - the legal profession is in the bull’s eye for this group of criminals.

In one recent case the victim, a law professor at the University of Maryland, received a message on the office voicemail from a suspect who claimed to be a lieutenant in the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office giving instructions to call him immediately. When the victim called the number, a voicemail message answered stating that the victim had reached the Sheriff’s Office and a deputy would call back.

Eventually the two connected and the “lieutenant” told the victim that a judge had issued a bench warrant because the victim had failed to attend a grand jury indictment hearing that morning. The victim told the suspect that there was no evidence of a summons. The suspect replied that the summons was sent to the victim’s office in Baltimore and that he had a signed receipt verifying the delivery. The “lieutenant” went on to say the court matter was a civil suit between two individuals but refused to expand on the explanation when questioned further by the victim.

The suspect told the victim to meet him in a Towson garage with a “bond voucher” or MoneyPak (pre-paid credit card) from a CVS or office supply store in the amount of $1,868 to have the warrant rescinded. During the conversation the suspect became very aggressive, shouting in an attempt to intimidate the victim into following instructions. The victim immediately recognized this as a telephone deception scam and hung up.

Baltimore County Police warn citizens, especially our more vulnerable citizens, to beware of telephone scams involving a theft by deception. No official agency will shout at you over the phone when you question their request. No official agency will require you to meet them somewhere with a payment in the form of cash/check/pre-paid card/gift card. No official agency will call to demand a payment without having sent a letter of notification. No official agency will threaten a citizen with punishment over the phone in order to gain compliance. And in this specific scheme, no official agency will require a payment to rescind an arrest warrant, nor will one be issued for missing jury duty.

Never send payment to an individual threatening you over the phone. Never meet a person with a payment when requested to do so over the phone. Never give your social security number or credit card number to anyone who claims to be a representative of any type of company or government agency over the phone. These are all scams to steal large amounts of money from unwitting victims, who could also become victims of a violent crime if they meet with these suspects.

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a similar phone request, call the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office at 410-887-3131 or the Baltimore County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at 410-887-2190. If you have been targeted by this scam you can report the incident to the Baltimore County Police Department by calling the non-emergency line at 410-887-2222.