TYLER — A jury duty scam is still targeting Smith County residents. In January, February, and June of this year, reports were released to the public about a jury duty scam taking place. Victims were conned out of cash via telephone by someone claiming to be with law enforcement and saying the victims owed fines for not showing up for Smith County jury duty. Wednesday, Sheriff Larry Smith announced the scam has returned with the latest report coming from a Smith County woman who did not comply with the scammer’s request.
“The woman hung up on the scammer the moment she realized it didn’t sound right,” Smith said Wednesday. “I am glad that this lady was not taken by the scammer, but unfortunately others have been. We’ve received another call today from a victim who did pay $1,000 to the scammer. We have connected the individuals who are perpetrating the scam to prison inmates in Georgia and New York and some arrests were made last month, but we’re working with law enforcement agencies in those states to continue the investigation.” The scammer Wednesday was using the name “Lieutenant Donaldson” and claimed to work for the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.
Here is how the scam works:
An individual purporting to be with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office is contacting individuals claiming they owe fines for missing jury duty. This person is not connected to the Sheriff’s Office. In January, a man contacted an individual in the Whitehouse area saying he owed a fine for missing jury duty. He instructed the individual to go to a local pharmacy and buy a pre-paid money card and then call back with the numbers on the back of the card. The individual did as instructed, but was then contacted again by the man saying the card did not go through and that the individual would need to purchase another and call back with the new numbers. Before the man called back with the second set of numbers, he spoke with the Whitehouse Police Department, who told him it was a scam. In addition to Wednesday’s victim and potential victim, in January, a Smith County woman was allegedly taken for $500 through the same scam tactics.
Everyone who receives a jury summons should report for jury duty as instructed, but officials say no member of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office or any other law enforcement agency will contact a citizen and ask for a fine to be paid in this manner. There are currently no outstanding warrants related to any jury summons, and no one from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office or any other law enforcement agency is collecting fines by phone. If anyone receives a similar call, contact the Smith County Sheriff’s Office immediately at 903-566-6600.