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New phone scam uses jury duty as the bait

Kitsap County residents are being hit with a new take on an old scam where a stranger calls and asks for money.

The new twist: Scammers are calling residents and saying they missed jury duty and have to pay a fine.

On Sept. 10, a Bainbridge Island resident told Bainbridge police that he was a victim of an over-the-phone scam.

He told officers he was called by a person who identified themselves as a major with the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office. The caller told the resident he had failed to respond to a jury summons and a warrant was out for his arrest. He then said the warrant would be lifted if the resident paid a fine of $1,000.

The resident obtained a payment card at the local Rite-Aid and called back. The caller told him the card was canceled and he would have to obtain a second payment card.

Ultimately the resident paid $2,000.

Later, he called Kitsap County Superior Court to confirm the warrant had been lifted, and he was told he was the fourth person that day to call for the same reason. He was advised he was a victim of a scam and to contact local authorities.

The same day, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office released a media advisory notifying the county of the scammer.

Officials from the sheriff's office said that after the county was alerted, the office received just a few more calls the next day before it stopped altogether.

The department's advisory included a few points to identify the scam:

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office has no role in jury administration. Court services and jury administration are under the sole purview of the county clerk;

All communications regarding jury duty are sent to county residents in writing;

Neither the sheriff’s office nor the county clerk’s office (or any department of county government) will initiate telephone communication with residents about jury duty, nor threaten anyone about missing jury duty. Warrants of arrest are not issued for failure to appear for jury duty; and

Questions about jury service should be addressed to the office of the Kitsap County clerk, jury administration, at 360-337-7166, ext. 6.

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