It’s happened again. For the third time in as many months, the Pasco County Clerk and Comptroller’s Office has received gift cards as payment for missed jury service. The victim in this case lives in New Port Richey and sent in the gift cards in November. Teammates contacted the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and detectives launched an investigation.
Pasco Clerk Nikki Alvarez-Sowles explains, the main red flag is getting a phone call from someone claiming to work in her office regarding missed jury duty. “Here is what I want the public to know, that will never happen. If someone calls you and identifies him or herself as an employee of my office demanding payment in the form of gift cards, it’s a scam.”
Here’s how it works. The scam artist calls the victim and tells the individual they missed jury duty and they have to pay a fine. The crook explains the easiest way to pay the fine is to purchase gift cards and then call a certain number. Once the victim calls the number, the scam artist asks him or her to read off the gift card numbers to make sure they are legit. The final step in the process, the criminal asks the victim to send the physical cards to the Clerk’s Office.
In a previous case, the victim lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Clerks’ Offices from across the state are seeing this type of criminal activity. Clerk Alvarez-Sowles says jury service is essential to our system of justice and believes someone profiting from this type of scam is troubling. “I just can’t understand why someone would do something like this. I don’t want anyone to become a victim of this scam. That’s why we are doing everything we can to inform the public.”