By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
A jury duty scam circulating around the state uses phone threats and lies to coerce people into providing their personal information.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Stonestreet explained that this scam started in North Central West Virginia.
Consumers were receiving automated telephone calls informing them that they had missed jury duty, which was false, he said. The people were threatened with the possibility of arrest and criminal implications, but were then told they wouldn’t be arrested or harassed any longer if they paid a fine over the phone at that moment.
Stonestreet said he hasn’t personally seen a scam exactly like this in the past, but it is an example of a phishing scam. These scams generally offer something that sounds too good to be true, like winning a contest or a prize, or use some type of coercive threat to scare people into providing financial information.
Examples are the recent text message scam telling consumers they had won a Target gift card, and the Medicare scam informing people that their Medicare card had expired and they needed to submit their personal information, he said.
“We see it all the time,” Stonestreet said of these types of scams. “It all has the same end. They’re trying to steal money.”
The jury duty scam is a particular brand of phishing that is called vishing, which uses Voice Over Internet Protocol to obtain credit card information, he said. While it began in the north-central part of the state, the scam ended up spreading all the way to Mercer County and is likely going across the Mid-Atlantic region of the country.