Sheriff: Phone scam artists are back

WEST CHESTER — Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh has reissued a warning to county residents following repeated reports of jury service scams in Chester County.

Bogus calls to county residents, claiming to come from the Sheriff’s Office, note failure to report for jury duty, resulting in the threat of an arrest warrant. The caller, who typically uses the names of real Chester County judges and deputies, instructs residents to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card for several hundred dollars to suspend the arrest warrant. Moreover, they threaten potential victims with immediate arrest if they fail to follow the instructions.

“Residents should be aware that the court or the Sheriff’s Office would never contact a person via telephone or email to demand payment of a fine to avoid being arrested for failure to appear for jury service,” Welsh said. “Individuals who fail to appear for jury service may receive a letter from the court with a date to appear and explain to a judge why they failed to appear, but they would never receive this communication in a telephone call.”

Welsh said the fact that an East Goshen couple lost $1,200 during the past week reinforced the need to repeat the warnings. Residents are urged to help spread the word, especially to citizens who may be the most vulnerable to these tactics, such as the elderly.

Only a judge can require people to pay a fine for failing to appear for jury service, and this may occur only after a people have been given the opportunity to explain themselves in open court.

Anyone receiving a call like this should not provide any requested information, and instead should hang up and contact his or her local police department, the Chester County Jury Services Office at 610-344-6174, or the Chester County Sheriff’s Office at 610-344-6860.

Residents can also visit the Federal Trade Commission website at https://www.ftc.gov to make a complaint and to receive more information on how to avoid and identify scams.

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