PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — One Petersburg man was almost scammed out of $1,000 in a jury duty scam that is making its way through the commonwealth.

The latest trick con artists are using to swindle people across central Virginia out of their hard-earned cash is to call and say you have missed jury duty, and you now have to pay a significant amount of money or get locked up.

On Thursday, April 20, a scammer called Wayne Carter and told him he had missed a nonexistent jury duty summons back in March. Carter had already served jury duty twice and the longer the call went on, the more suspicious he became.

“They went on to say that if I did not turn myself in, then there was a warrant for my arrest, and I said ‘okay, well that is interesting.’” 

The call came from somebody who was alleging to be a member of the Petersburg Sheriff’s Office. But Carter says they slipped up when they gave the name of a real sheriff’s deputy, but gave the wrong rank.

Still, the scammer managed to keep Carter on the phone for several minutes before he caught on.

“I’ve heard about a whole lot of different scams going around, but this one I had not heard about, which is why it caught me off guard,” Carter said.

Carter realized he was on the phone with a scam artist when he walked down the street to his neighbor — who just so happens to be Petersburg Sheriff Vanessa Crawford.

“One of my neighbors had been called! And my neighbor said, ‘Well I know the sheriff so I’m going to go to her house and ask her about this,'” Crawford said. “So apparently since that time, several folks have said that they have had calls. Even some of my deputies have had calls to their homes. But it is a scam.” 

Crawford says that the Sheriff’s Office will never call you for a jury duty summons, but instead will serve you or send you a letter by mail.

She also says that scammers will typically try to target older people because they are more trusting. But don’t be fooled — anyone can become a victim.

“This tells me that we need to continue to alert and tell the public about what we do,” Crawford said. “And make sure that they understand that anybody calling is a scam. It is not from our office.” 

If you have fallen victim to this or any other scam, report it to Petersburg Police or the Petersburg Sheriff’s Office.