POLK COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) — Polk County Sheriff’s Office is warning people about phone calls pretending to be the sheriff’s office threatening arrest for missing jury duty and demanding payment.

“If someone calls you and tells you that you will be arrested for missing jury duty unless you pay them some money, hang up it’s a scam,” says Sheriff Grady Judd. “These unscrupulous people can be very convincing by posing as deputies and making it look like an incoming call is from the Sheriff’s Office.”

The most recent reported incident occurred on June 24, near Winter Haven.

The victim received a phone call from someone claiming he was a U.S. Marshal working with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He told the woman that she had missed jury duty and would face arrest unless she withdrew $2,400 from her bank, drive to CVS and wait for further instruction.

The woman got the money but called the sheriff’s office because “something didn’t feel right about it.”

A PSCO deputy responded and called the scammer’s phone number. They discovered that the scammers created a fake PCSO automated answering machine.

According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, the jury scams have also been reported in nearby counties.

A few things to be mindful of:

  • A frequent tactic by scammers is to demand money using gift cards or pre-paid credit cards.
  • Scammers tend to be aggressive; their goal is to get your money quickly and often react negatively when you ask too many questions.
  • If you are suspicious about who you are talking to, tell the caller you will hang up and call the main number back. Then go onto the internet and look up the real phone number.
  • When weary about phone callers asking for money, call the sheriff’s office. A deputy will be happy to help you and keep you from being victimized.