Oregon Judicial Department warns of jury duty scam

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — This week, the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) reported that folks in Oregon are once again being targeted by fraudulent calls, emails and texts threatening people with fines, prosecution or jail time for “failing to comply with jury duty.”

State officials said the most recent reports are from the Willamette Valley, but it is likely that other areas may be targeted as well. The OJD sent out a warning Friday of bogus phone calls, emails and texts on jury duty that may lead to fraud.

That warning was issued at the same time a KGW viewer reached out about her own experience with scammers.

Earlier this week someone called her — demanding thousands of dollars — claiming she’d missed a jury summons and had to pay up.

“I think the biggest mistake I made was answering a robocall,” Zoe explained.

She said she’s normally not one to answer an unknown number.

RELATED: Scammers going after Oregonians’ money with jury duty grift

“But this number called me a couple times and I was like, OK, like maybe someone’s in an accident or something, or I need to address something, so I answered and immediately this person is on the phone.”

The caller posed as a law enforcement officer, giving her a name, a badge number and reading back her personal information — like her mailing address and full name. He then gave her “case numbers” for missing a court date and said she was in contempt of court.

At the time, it sounded official, urgent and convincing.

“I want to do the right thing,” Zoe said. “I want to get this out of the way, like there’s all this like urgency around it. I don’t want this hanging over my head.”

She said the person on the other end of the line gave her the name of a judge, a phone number to call back and a dollar amount that she had to pay right away for missing jury duty.

“At this point, he’s like, the payment process we have it through Zelle, so you have to set that up. Unfortunately, I don’t have familiarity with Zelle, but the only thing I know about it is that it’s advertised on my banking app…I’m like, oh, okay, this is an official thing because my bank promotes it.”

They went back and forth for a while over the phone, Zoe working to send over the money. She sent over $2,000 before realizing none of it was legitimate. \

Zoe is now working to get that money back. And she’s not alone in this.

RELATED: Portland woman had $23,000 stolen through Zelle payment app scam

Officials are now reminding people that state and federal courts do not require anyone to provide sensitive information in a call, email or text. However, Oregon courts may provide jury notices and reminders by text, but these will not request personal information, make threats or demand money.

According to OJD, here is what to do if you receive a jury-related phone call, email or text that demands information or money:

  • Do not provide the requested information, nor payment.
  • Do not reply directly to the text or email, click on any links, nor open any attachments, even if it appears that the message is coming from the courts or police.

The OJD said Scammers often create messages that look like they are coming from a legitimate source when they are not.

  • If possible, get the caller’s name and number and then hang up.

RELATED: Yes, scammers can use artificial intelligence to impersonate people you know

Reach out directly to your local circuit court jury coordinator to verify or report the contact. Contact information for Oregon’s state circuit courts are available here. Information about jury duty and possible scams can be found here. 

If you have received one of these calls, emails or texts and have given out personal information, monitor your account statements and credit reports carefully. If any unauthorized charges are made, report the theft to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-438-4338 or by clicking here. Also, contact a credit bureau to request that it place a fraud alert on your credit history.

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