Whatcom sheriff warns of new phone scam: a fine for failing to appear for jury duty

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 1, 2014 

The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office is warning local residents about a new scam where people are told they need to pay a fine for failure to appear for jury duty.

The sheriff's office received multiple reports Thursday, May 1, of people called on the phone by someone claiming to be from the sheriff's office. They are even using the names of sheriff's staff members.

The callers claim the person has a warrant for their arrest and must pay as much as $1,400 in fines. The callers try to arrange a meeting to pay the "fine."

To help convince people it's not a scam, the callers have duplicated the sheriff's office phone system greeting; it plays if the victim calls the number on their caller ID.

The scam has hit people with Bellingham addresses. It does not appear to be targeted at any particular age group.

The sheriff's office was tipped to the scam by people contacting the office with questions or to confirm the information.

The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office does not routinely contact people to set up a meeting to pay fines over a warrant. Anyone who receives such a call should not provide any information to the caller and under no circumstances meet at an arranged location to pay the callers, according to the office.

Warrants and fines are always taken care of at official government business locations, and usually through showing up at court or in communication with the issuing court.

Anyone who has been contacted by these scammers is asked to call the sheriff's office at 360-676-6650 during business hours or 360-676-6912 after hours.

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