TOMS RIVER – Residents are being warned to ignore calls threatening warrants or jail time for allegedly missing jury duty.
Scammers are using sophisticated technology to pose as Ocean County Sheriff’s officers, and now as court mediators. It’s likely the same group posing as both, officials said.
“The problem is such that these scam artists have developed a relatively sophisticated set-up where our residents are fooled by the telephone numbers they are seeing and are frightened into paying the scammers,” Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said.
These scammers appear to be calling from the sheriff’s department, and also provide a call back number that is convincing, but fake. They are asking for members of each household and providing accurate birth dates, adding to their seeming legitimacy. Mastronardy himself called the number, and when the scammer realized it was the sheriff he was speaking with, bragged that they’d scammed about $250,000 from unsuspecting victims. There’s no way to confirm that number, officials said.
“We will do all we can to stop this and to inform the public about this,” the sheriff said.
Residents can call the county to confirm if they’ve been summoned for jury duty at 732-506-5060.
No one from the county will ever call demanding money for supposedly missing jury duty. If anything, the sheriff said, that person will get another notice in the mail.
Court officials said the irony of this scam is that it is rare for potential jurists not to respond to jury duty in Ocean County.
Jurors with scheduling conflicts can work with the Superior Court to serve another time.
“The best advice we can give people is to call the courts if you get this kind of a call,” Mastronardy said. “We don’t want our residents to be fooled and believe they will get a warrant for their arrest if they don’t pay a fine.”