Be wary of jury duty telephone scam

by Wes Mayer

The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that the sheriff’s office would never call citizens on the phone to tell them they missed jury duty, and would definitely never ask for any financial information over the phone.

Recently, the sheriff’s office has been receiving reports from Cowetans about suspicious phone calls from a person identifying himself as Lt. Fitzmore, Lt. Jones, or some other name, said Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager. The caller will identify himself, tell whoever answers that they missed jury duty in Coweta County and that they must pay a fine.

“Just hang up on them, laugh at them or tell them where to go,” Yeager said.

According to Lt. Col. Jimmy Yarbrough with the sheriff’s office, the suspect seems to be preying on the elderly. Yarbrough said the suspect will introduce himself as some ranking officer, like Commander Yarbrough, and will ask whoever answers to go to a gas station, a pharmacy or somewhere similar to get Green Dot prepaid debit cards to pay the fines.

Yeager said the caller may also ask for credit card numbers or debit card numbers.

“It kind of freaked me out,” said a victim who did not want to be identified. “I try to be an upstanding citizen. When you get threatened with stuff with the cops, it freaks you out. It made me feel a little uneasy.”

The caller apparently introduced himself to the victim as Lt. Fitzshaw, said the victim missed jury duty and must go to Walmart to get a Green Dot card. The caller knew the victim’s old home address and said there were warrants for the victim’s arrest.

Fortunately, the victim thought the call was suspicious, called the sheriff’s office and was told the call was a scam. The victim learned that legitimate fine payments would only take place in person during regular hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., during the week — the victim was called on a Saturday night. The victim told this to the caller, and he hung up.

Yarbrough said fines are almost always paid in person at the Justice Center, never over the phone.

Yeager said this scam has been traveling around Georgia for a while, and just recently began popping up in Coweta County.

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