Jury duty telephone scam hits Lake Highlands

money pak imageA new telephone scam has hit Lake Highlands, and residents are warned to think twice before giving bank or credit card information to unknown callers.

One longtime LH’er who phoned me about her experience said she got a call about 6 p.m. Friday. A warrant had been issued for her arrest, the man said, because she missed Thursday’s jury duty. She was confused. Her jury duty was scheduled for next week, she told him.

He pressed.

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He said his name was Stephen Womack with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department (she Googled the Sheriff’s Dept. and found the name to be legitimate). She needed to drive to CVS Pharmacy or Dollar General and purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card for $494 tonight and call him back with the information on the card. She should then deliver the MoneyPak to officials at the Frank Crowley Courthouse Monday morning.

She was flustered and began asking questions. He became more intimidating. She finally hung up.

Turns out, this scam has made its way around the country over the past few months. Other cities have stories of different frauds involving MoneyPaks, which are reloadable debit cards and may be drained using only the numbers on the back.

It’s not known if the caller had inside information that the LH resident actually had upcoming jury duty or if that was a coincidence. Even more scary is the prospect that the scammer trolled through her mailbox and found notice of her jury duty there.

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“No one in an official capacity with the city, county, IRS or similar agency is going to call you to get financial information over the phone or come to the door,” said Dallas Police Sergeant David Burroughs. “Anybody who calls you claiming to be a bailiff or deputy and threatening to come to your door and take you to jail if you don’t give them money is a fraud.”

Burroughs doesn’t work in the forgery unit but says “they see all sorts of scams and trickeries. The rules you follow online are the same as those you should follow on the phone: tell them ‘I’m not comfortable giving out that information. Give me your name and number and I will call you back.’ That gives you time to do more research.”

If you get a similar call, you’re advised to contact the Dallas Police at 214-670-4415. Here’s the phone number to look out for: 214-681-8389.

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