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St. Louisans getting scam phone calls threatening fines for allegedly missing jury duty

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A warning from St. Louis city judicial leaders about what they call a scam involving someone who is trying to get hundreds of dollars from people by saying they missed jury duty. Joanne Martin, the person in charge of supervising juries for the city, is among those who has spoken directly to the man who she says is trying to pull off this scheme.

Martin's office has taken nearly 20 calls since yesterday from concerned citizens who say they were contacted by a person identifying himself as the sheriff.
Several citizens have also called St. Louis City Sheriff Vernon Betts' office with similar concerns.

Martin says the man tells people that they missed jury duty and are now facing penalties including possible arrest. Martin tells us the man says he can resolve the issue by the person getting $900 in green dot cards, which are prepaid debit cards, and giving him the card information over the phone.

The man says he wants three separate $300 cards for three alleged penalties: contempt of court, failing to appear, and processing fees. The man also says people will get their money back once they appear in court.

Martin posed as someone who the man was trying to scam when she spoke with him. She tells us the man actually told her he was working out of her office on her behalf without knowing he was talking to Martin.

"I really want the citizens out there to know that this is a scam because I found it somewhat believable in that if you get a call like this and you do get scared of the judicial system I could see some people wanting to get this rectified as soon as possible," said Martin.

Sheriff Betts added, "This guy is conning our citizens or attempting to con our citizens and I think it's terrible. He`s impersonating the sheriff, me, and I don't like that. He's impersonating an officer, that's a crime in and of itself."

One potential victim tells me the man knew both where she worked and where she lived. Both Martin and Betts say their offices will never call people about failing to appear for jury duty, rather you would receive an official notice in the mail or possibly be personally served.

Martin's office has called St. Louis Police about the issue.

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