Jury duty ploy used in phone scam

Imposters make threatening calls to collect fines

SAN DIEGO - People pretending to be sheriff's deputies are making threatening calls all across San Diego, telling residents they missed jury duty and will have to pay a hefty fine or go to jail.

It happened to Vietnam veteran Debbie Hughes in Mira Mesa, who received the call over the weekend.

"It's frightening," Hughes told 10News. "A guy called and said he was Officer O'Reilley with the sheriff's department … said I failed to answer to jury duty and ordered a warrant for my arrest."

The caller told Hughes she would have to pay more than $950 in fines but could avoid being hauled away in handcuffs if she could pay half of the cost up front. 

"I said, 'This must be a joke,'" said Hughes. "That's when the caller told me it was no joke … He said I have to go to court on July 14 or he will pick me up. I said to pick me up!"

Suspicious, Hughes hung up the phone and called police, who confirmed her suspicions. It was a scam.

10News called the number with the 858 area code and it was disconnected. A search on the Internet showed the number belonged to someone in Vista.

However, imposter agents have been making calls all over San Diego. It even caught the attention of the county's District Attorney's Office. On its website, the office warns people about the "Jury Scam" and "Warrant Scam" occurring across several counties.

Hughes never ended up paying any money, but she hopes her story will get out there before someone else does.

"It didn't start with me. It's not going to end with me. I'm sure of that," Hughes added. "I'm sure they just have another number and they're going to do it to someone else."

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