The FBI arrested two Georgia residents for scamming North Alabama residents out of nearly $19,000.
35-year-old Teiana Taylor and 42-year-old Orenthial Walker would call their victims and say they'd missed federal jury duty and would be arrested unless they sent money immediately. The indictment says they'd tell victims to send money through gift cards or commercial services to an account they controlled, and would transfer it as directed by an unidentified co-conspirator.
Both Taylor and Walker were charged with conspirinng together and with others to commit wire fraud with false information concerning jury duty.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 find.
Victims of the fraud say the scammers sound very convincing. They may use real information about the victim and even real court addresses. Scammers may also use the real names of law enforcement officers, court officials and federal judges to make the scam seem more credible. They even use a fake number that appears to be from court or a government agency on caller ID.
Avoiding Jury Duty Scam
“Scammers like these undermine the authority of the courts and federal law enforcement agencies dedicated to the rule of law,” U.S. Attorney Jay Town said. “It is important for everyone to understand, in an effort to avoid becoming a victim, that federal agencies will never call you on the phone and demand money. We do not, typically, call ahead.”
The court will always send a jury summons by mail, and they will never demand payment over the phone.
If someone misses jury duty, they will be contacted through mail by the court clerk's office. They may also need to appear before a judge, but these orders will always be in writing and signed by the judge.
Fines are also never imposed until after they appear in court and given the opportunity to explain why they didn't appear for jury duty. If they are fined, it will be in open court and reduced to writing. These fines are not payable with gift cards.
You can verify if you've been summoned for jury duty by calling the Northern District of Alabama's jury office at 1-800-222-8715.