ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Phone call scams come and go, and one in particular is popping up recently, trying to get folks to pay for missing jury duty. Scammers are posing as law enforcement in the most recent round of calls. One woman detected she was being scammed immediately and is now trying to spread the word.
Elizabeth Murray’s husband received a voicemail saying a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy was looking for Elizabeth. They were suspicious it could be a scam, so they called the number back to see, and sure enough something was fishy.
“Initially, actually it had you go through the stages, you know push one for this office, two for this office, three for warrants, I pushed the warrants, and it went to another voicemail that actually said you have called the Erie County Sheriff’s Department.”
Then a few minutes later, Murray got a call back from the same number with a person identifying himself as a Captain from the Sheriff’s Department. When he didn’t say anything more, she asked why he called.
“And he said I’m calling to tell you warrants have been issued for your arrest. Is it right that you’re a registered voter? Yes, I am. And he said, well, you were supposed to appear in federal court today for jury duty and you did not appear, so the Honorable Judge Richard has issued warrants for your arrest.”
Murray says she tried to have a conversation with the scammer to see what identification information he was going to try to get from her. He told her that she would be arrested if she did not follow his specific instructions, and the reason she didn’t receive a summons for jury duty was because there must have been some kind of mistake with the mail. He had Murray write down two case numbers which he called the warrant and arrest numbers needed to straighten things out. Murray also texted her friends who are officers to check with them to see if it seemed like a scam to them, to which they agreed it did. When she referenced those officer friends to the scammer, he put her on hold, and she was certain he would hang up in that moment. She said it seemed like a lot of work was going into the scam which concerned her because she said that means they must be getting it to work on other people. The scammer reconnected with the line and Murray mentioned she already spoke with another officer and that’s when he hung up.
Murray says she’s just lucky she caught on before paying any money. The scammers asked her to meet them at the county jail and from what others were saying online, they wanted her to bring money. She also wasn’t sure if the scammer could find her location and rob her house while she was gone. She says the red flags included the scammer calling the wrong phone number, the voicemail being for the wrong sheriff’s office, and the number not looking like a Monroe County registered number. And those red flags are exactly what law enforcement says to look for. Brendan Hurley with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says if you don’t trust the call, either leave it alone or you can try to confirm it.
“It never hurts my feelings if I make a phone call and you don’t believe who I am because then there’s two options. I can come visit you and show you who I am so you can see the bright shiny badge and all of that or you can call 9-1-1. I’ll give you my information and you can run it through 9-1-1 and they will verify it with me that I am trying to get in touch with you.”
He says they always want people to be cautious and to know that if law enforcement was coming to arrest someone, they would just arrest them. They wouldn’t call as a warning. He adds if you do end up giving the scammer money and realize it’s a scam, you should call your bank right away. And if you use a credit card, you should get it shut down.