Imposter scams take on new forms: missed jury duty and demand for payment scams

In her latest scam alert, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warns residents that they may be targeted by scammers claiming to be representing government entities. 

The Michigan Department of Attorney General has received reports that a missed jury duty scam is currently being perpetrated in Oakland County. In this scam, fraudsters call unsuspecting residents and tell them that they have failed to appear for jury duty in federal court. The caller threatens the person with arrest if they don’t pay a “cash bond,” which has reportedly been as high as $5,000. 

“The public should remember that delinquent jurors are never contacted by phone to pay fines for missed jury duty,” Nessel said. “You would receive a notice by mail with specific instructions on what to do next, not a demand for immediate payment under threats of jail.” 

So far, two complaints involving the missed jury duty scam have been reported to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. In both cases, the scammer claimed to be an Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy. Though in both instances cash was demanded to keep the call recipient out of jail, neither person paid. Instead, they turned themselves in only to discover that there were no arrest warrants sworn in either case. 

Another imposter scam involves letters mailed to residents that appear to be from a state agency. The letters, which indicate that they are a “final demand for payment” related to a tax lien, threaten potential foreclosure unless payment is made. 

One such letter sent to a nursing center in Detroit from the “Tax Lien Group Tax Processing Unit” indicated the “State of Michigan may seize [the] property for nonpayment of taxes.” The amount listed on the letter was $27,622, but no tax debt was owed to the state. The letter contained an 800 phone number commonly used to perpetrate similar scams.  

The individuals perpetrating these scams may expand the deception to other agencies, such as the FBI, IRS, or some other state or federal government entity. 

Those who are concerned that they are being targeted by a government imposter can protect themselves by doing an internet research. Looking up the phone number for the government agency allows them to call and inquire without relying upon information provided by the scammer. 

Residents can do an Internet search for the phone number they are being asked to call. This may help determine whether it actually belongs to a government agency or if it is one being used in scams. 

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