Crime & Courts

Phone calls about missed jury duty, $500 fee part of scam

A man with a southern accent is reportedly using a Wichita phone number to call people and tell them he has a warrant for their arrest for missed jury duty. He then tells them to pay $500 per warrant to avoid arrest.

The Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division said it had received two reports about the scam and that the Wichita Police Department had received eight reports about the scam since Friday.

Richard Hunt, a Wichita resident, said the scammer called his home phone Monday afternoon. Hunt said the call showed up as a local phone number, and the man identified himself as Deputy James Marshall.

The Eagle called the phone number, and a man with a southern accent identified himself as Deputy James Marshall. The man insisted he was with the sheriff’s department, even though the number was not an official county line, all of which begin with the 660 exchange.

Hunt said the scammer told him he had two warrants for his arrest for missing jury duty and said the warrants were signed by Judge Brooks. Judge Daniel Brooks is a judge in Sedgwick County District Court but is not connected to the scam.

Sharon Werner, chief attorney for the Consumer Protection Division, said Brooks called her Friday to report he heard a scammer was using his name.

She said this scam appears to be local because of the local area code and local judge’s name, unlike common out-of-state scams reported to her office.

She said the number could be manipulated to appear to be local.

Hunt said he asked the scammer for his badge number and asked him to read the warrant numbers. Hunt said the scammer did list numbers for his badge and warrants but that the warrant numbers were consecutive, which raised a red flag.

“I just assumed that anything like that would come in the mail, and it was just strange they called on the phone out of the blue,” Hunt said. “I knew I hadn’t received anything.”

The scammer read Hunt’s address to him over the phone and told him he would send someone to arrest Hunt.

Hunt said the scammer wanted him to electronically transfer $500 for each of the two warrants, but Hunt told the scammer he would instead go to the courthouse the next day.

“He was very adamant that he wanted to get things taken care of on the phone,” Hunt said. “I got more suspicious as time went on, so I just hung up.”

If you receive a similar call or think you’ve been the victim of a scam, call the Consumer Protection Division at 316-660-3653.

Reach Gabriella Dunn at 316-268-6400 or gdunn@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @gabriella_dunn.

Tips to avoid getting scammed

▪ Be suspicious of every call, because phone numbers can be manipulated to appear as if they’re local.

▪ Never give out personal information by phone or e-mail unless you initiated the interaction.

▪ The government does not typically call or deliver threats concerning money by phone.

▪ Phone numbers for county agencies begin with 316-660.

▪ If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, call the Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division at 316-660-3653.

Source: U.S. Federal Trade Commission; Sedgwick County Consumer Protection Division

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