FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) --The Fresno County Sheriff's Office has a new warning after a new phone scam spreads to the Valley.
Scammers pretending to be sheriff's deputies are calling people demanding money in exchange for wiping out arrest warrants. The asking price, $2,000.00.
It's a new scam popping up in cities all over the country, and now here at home. Men and women are posing as sheriff's officials, cold calling families. In most cases, the caller claims a warrant was issued because the homeowner didn't show up to court.
"Lets them know they have failed to report for jury duty and they must pay a $2,000.00 fine to avoid a warrant being issued for their arrest," said Chris Curtice, with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. "And they're asking for that money to be put into what's called a Green Dot Bank account."
Luckily the three people who alerted authorities didn't give up any money, but investigators are concerned someone eventually will.
Fresno County sheriff's spokesperson Chris Curtice is now working to get the word out about the so-called "jury duty scam." He says while deputies in search for suspects will sometimes visit homes, send letters and occasionally make phone calls -- he insists the department will never ask for money by phone, email or in person.
"If you have a warrant, you're not going to let you know you have a warrant," said Curtice. "We don't do it that way."
And neither do the courts. Presiding Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jon Conklin says when a person willfully fails to show up for jury duty, they must go through a series of steps before they're ultimately fined, taken into custody or a hold is placed on their driver's license.
Judge Conklin explained, "If they fail to appear, they're officially notified through the mail, they're notified of a hearing date, they come into the court, they meet with a jury commissioner, they can meet with a judge if they'd like, so there's quite a process we go through."
A process he says never results in a phone call from authorities demanding money on the spot.
"That should be an immediate red flag, something is inappropriate," said Judge Conklin. "We'd never do that."
Deputies say if you get a call and you're unsure about it, the best thing to do is to hang up and call the sheriff's office and ask them about it.