PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Scammers are being called out as guilty by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office when it comes to a new ploy related to jury duty.

County residents have made several reports of being contacted by people “falsely posing” as members of the sheriff’s office and even “spoofing” the sheriff’s real phone number.

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In each of the cases, the sheriff’s office explained that the fraudulent caller tells each person that they have neglected their jury duty obligation and must pay a fine to prevent their arrest and incarceration. Several residents have also reported that these scammers have left voicemails when their calls were not answered.

If anyone receives a call like this, the sheriff advises everyone to take these steps:

  • Hang up without providing any information or taking any action
  • Do not return the call if you were left a voicemail
  • Do not act on requests to purchase a money order, gift cards or pre-paid debit cards
  • If asked to do anything, be sure to not leave your home or workplace to meet the caller at any location

“Statewide, members of the public have reported being scammed out of thousands of dollars through jury duty scams such as these,” according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

Photo courtesy Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

So, how do you know if a jury penalty is legit?

The sheriff’s office said in North Carolina, according to a statue, the penalty for disobeying a jury summons is a $50 fine. That fine is intended to be given for every time a juror fails to appear. Also, all N.C. official jury summons and failure to appear notices are always delivered by mail.

“These deceptive individuals prey on the fear of arrest and exploit our sense of civic responsibility,” said Sheriff Mike Roberson. “The Sheriff’s Office will never call you to demand payment for missed jury duty. If you receive such a call, please report it to our office immediately. Together we can protect our community from these fraudulent schemes.”

To report any suspicious calls received in Chatham County, call the sheriff’s office at 919-542-2911.