‘Jury duty’ phone scam hits Washington County

Official sounding phone call targets people to get thousands of dollars

A telephone (KOIN 6 News, file)
A telephone (KOIN 6 News, file)

HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. (KOIN) — It happens frequently and seems to happen more often these days: the phone rings and an official-sounding voice claims to be a sheriff’s deputy and wants money to pay a bogus fine.

Last Friday, a 70-year-old Washington County man was told there was an arrest warrant for him because he missed jury duty. He was told to put $2000 onto pre-paid cash cards at a nearby grocery store, and then gave the access codes to the caller.

A Happy Valley woman also got a similar call on Saturday. She told KOIN 6 News she didn’t give the man any money, but she admits it left her shaking. Now, she’s doing what she can to warn others about the scam.

Peggy — whose last name is not being used by KOIN 6 News — said it began with a phone message on her landline from someone with the “Clackamas County Civil Division Unit” calling about an “urgent” matter.

“We would just like to remind everyone that the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office will never ask for money, either in cash or pre-paid credit cards,” Clackamas County Sgt. Brian Jensen told KOIN 6 News. “The public can always call and ask us if they have any questions. “

She said she was skeptical from the start but was also curious.

“They told me that I had been summoned for jury duty in September and my husband had been summoned for jury duty during that time, so I thought there might be some legitimacy there, that maybe the names had gotten mixed up,” she said. “But I never had signed a certified letter stating that I was going to show for jury duty so I knew that was not correct.”

She returned the phone call.

“At first, he was very courteous,” she told KOIN 6 News. “Said that I had a warrant out for my arrest because I had not shown for jury duty, and that 2 warrants were issued for me to be arrested.”

Each warrant, the man told her, was for $2450, and she needed to drive right away to 807 Main Street in Oregon City to handle this.

That’s the Clackamas County Courthouse, which — among other things — is closed on Saturdays.

“I requested a marked sheriff’s office vehicle to show up at my door and tell me that this was legitimate,that there indeed was a warrant for my arrest,” Peggy said.

The caller, she said, “became very agitated and very belligerent and started yelling.”

“He became angry and sounded threatening, that if I didn’t do this I was just going to get thrown in jail, no questions asked. If they came to my door they wouldn’t let me explain anything,” she said.

While still on her landline, Peggy used her cell phone to text her sister and a neighbor for help. Then she also called the real Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, who confirmed it was a scam.

The sheriff’s office told her to block the number from her phone.

“I feel violated, I feel apprehensive about possibly knowing where I live,” Peggy said. “I’m worried that the elderly are very prone to this kind of scam. I’d like to prevent it from happening to anybody else.”