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TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Travis County Sheriff’s Office is forewarning residents of ongoing fraudulent callers posing as county officials and seeking payments for missed jury duty appearances.
An Austin reddit post that gained traction over the weekend cautioned of callers pretending to be a lieutenant or other TCSO member.
Per the post, some residents were receiving phone calls claiming there was a warrant for their arrest for missing a jury duty date, as well as emailing signed notices of warrants and case numbers to appear legitimate.
A TCSO spokesperson confirmed the department has received reports of these latest fraudulent attempts, adding it’s been an issue the department has dealt with for several years now.
“[They] will use the names of TCSO officers for several weeks, then use the names of officers from other agencies,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We find that the use of names of our officers occurs for a couple of months, then stops for several months. We have received reports.”
The spokesperson added TCSO “will never seek immediate payment for anything via wire transfer, gift cards or money packs.” She said residents should be vigilant and never deliver immediate payment over the phone.
Anyone who is uncertain about the call’s legitimacy is advised to call TCSO at 512-854-9770 to verify the caller’s validity before proceeding with payments.
While these callers have targeted Travis County residents for years, they often don’t extend from in-county residents committing a crime. The TCSCO spokesperson added many “spoof” numbers are based both outside the county and the U.S.
For those non-county spoofs, they said TCSO shares the information reported to federal officials.
TCSO has an online public awareness resource outlining fraudulent attempts reported in the county.
In Texas, the Office of Court Administration does outline stipulations should someone not comply with a jury summons. Someone who receives a summons and doesn’t answer it is subject to a fine between $100 and $1,000, per the office.
Jurors who are notified to attend court and miss their appearance without a reasonable excuse or by giving a false exemption claim are subject to a fine between $100 and $500.