The Luzerne County Sheriff’s Department issued a public warning Wednesday about a scam now under investigation.
People falsely claiming to be from the county sheriff’s department or county judiciary have contacted several county residents threatening that arrest warrants have been issued for missed jury duty, according to the county.
The scammers said the warrants would be dropped if the residents paid the fine, the county said. The residents were advised to visit a pharmacy or convenience store to purchase prepaid debit cards or iTune gift cards and provide the card numbers to the scanners over the phone to pay the fines.
Through this approach, the scammers already have stolen thousands of dollars from area residents, the county said.
The county District Attorney’s Office and U.S. Federal Trade Commission are investigating.
Using technology, the scammers masked their phone numbers and set up an official sounding answering service with voice prompts to field missed calls, the county said.
Residents are encouraged to contact the District Attorney’s Office at (570) 825-1674 and the FCC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 if they were targeted in this scam or others.
County Sheriff Brian Szumski stressed his office does not contact residents with outstanding warrants by phone and never seeks payments by phone.
All payments to the sheriff’s department are in person or through the mail by certified check or money order, he said.
Further information on fraud and scams is available at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0076-phone-scams.