Leesburg residents targets of jury duty scam

(AP photo)

(WJLA) -- Leesburg police are cautioning residents about a new scam tied to jury duty.

According to police, in the past few days, they have received four complaints from residents who have been targets of a new scam.

In each case, the resident was called by an unknown person who told him or her they failed to show up for jury duty, and therefore there was a warrant out for their arrest.

The suspect then reportedly tells the victim he or she can avoid being arrested if they pay a fine.

To pay the fine, the scam artist tells the victim to obtain an electronic MoneyPak card in the amount of several hundred dollars from a local pharmacy or department store and meet them at the courthouse to turn it in.

The suspect is reportedly very forceful, continuing to pressure the victim by stating that officers will be sent to their house if they do not cooperate, and demanding the person stays in constant contact with them to ensure the money card is obtained.

Once the victim confirms the purchase of the money card, the suspect then demands the victim read them the serial number over the phone. The funds on the card are then transferred to the suspect electronically, unbeknownst to the victim.

At that point, the victims all reported that contact with the suspect ceased.

This jury duty scam is the latest in a string of similar crimes targeting residents and small businesses in Northern Virginia.

"Unfortunately these types of scams, as well as various others, occur far too often and people fall victim to scam artists looking to turn a quick profit by playing on the fears of victims by implying that they or one of their loved ones is in some sort of trouble," Leesburg police said in a statement Wednesday.

Leesburg police reminded residents Wednesday to beware of "phishing" scams such as this that prey on the fears of the public and attempt to intimidate people into cooperating.

Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords, serial numbers, and credit card details, by pretending to be a trustworthy person or business. Phishing is typically carried out using email or an instant message, although phone contact can be used.

Leesburg police said they are currently investigating the jury duty scam cases, and asks that anyone who believes they may have been a target of such a scam to contact their local law enforcement agency.