'Jury Duty Scam' targeting Mecklenburg County residents

CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - When Tina Hunt got a call saying she skipped jury duty - and had to pay or go to jail - she was shocked.

"It felt like I had a gun to my head the whole entire time," said Hunt. 

Crooks posing as  Mecklenburg County Sheriff deputies told Hunt she owed $473 or they would come and get her.

"I'm scared. I'm starting to cry," said Hunt. "Because I told him I didn't want to go downtown on a Friday night to the sheriff's office."

Sheriff Irwin Carmichael says he gets a couple complaints a week about this latest scam. His own family member was conned out of more than $1000.

It is a variation of a popular scam at tax time when thieves pretend to be IRS agents demanding payment in the form of gift cards.

"He said you need to go down to Walgreens and buy this MoneyPak card. I've never seen this card before," said Hunt. "He told me if the cashier asked what it was for I was to say it was for something personal, to not answer any questions."

The number was local and the caller had no accent, Hunt said. 

"It sounds like your next door neighbor from the south that's talking to you," she recalled.

The sheriff stresses this is not at all how they operate.They will send out jury duty notices but will not demand payment.

"If you miss it, last thing we're going to do is call you," said Carmichael. "We're going to try to get back in touch with you, 'Let's reschedule.'" 

Carmichael says the thieves are difficult to trace.

"They're using ghost numbers...and as soon as this transaction is completed they shut the number down," he said. "Most of these folks, they're not even in this country." 

Tina had to borrow the money from her father. Now, she hopes her story serves as a warning to others.

"We need to shut this scam down," said Carmichael. 

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