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BBB warns of jury duty scam in the Roanoke area

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - "We will come to your home, you will be handcuffed, and you will have to wear a jumpsuit."

Con artists are once again targeting the Roanoke area with scam calls masquerading as law enforcement officers, claiming their targets missed jury duty and must pay or face arrest.

One Roanoke woman told BBB that the caller claimed he was from the Roanoke County Sherriff's Department and sounded very professional. At first she believed him.

"He had my name and address and was very calm and authoritative. It wasn't until he asked me to pay bail over the phone that I knew it was a scam."

According to the BBB, this particular scam call showed far more patience than has been reported in previously reported attempts, not mentioning payment until 15 minutes into the call. The caller also stated that they had sent out a letter in November and that they'd be happy to plead her case to the judge.

They even offered to reimburse her the funds if she wasn't charged for the crime. It may be a sign of new tactics, officials say. 

Stay safe with these BBB tips:

Don't let scammers pressure you. If you get a call from alleged court officials asking for financial information and using aggressive tactics, end the phone call and report the scam to BBB and your local sheriff's office, courthouse or clerk of court.

Be aware that scammers can mask their identity. Scammers have the ability to use software to disguise how they appear on your caller ID. While calls might appear to be from your local courthouse or police station, it could be a fraudster on the other end of the line.

Guard your personal information. Giving out sensitive personal or financial information over the phone is always a bad idea. The courthouse already has your personal details and will not ask you to confirm via phone.

Have questions about the process? If you did indeed miss jury duty, you will be sent a notification in the mail. However, if you have any doubt that a mailing is legitimate, contact your local courthouse.

Never wire money or send cash to an unknown party. Scammers love to use pre-paid cards and money wires because they are difficult to trace and are same as cash.

For more advice on fighting fraud, please visit www.bbb.org or contact the BBB Serving Western VA at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501.