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New Jury Duty Scam Targets Lawyers and Other Professionals

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on February 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It was just another day for family lawyer Cindy Harrington Napier when she got a phone message from a Lt. Yates of the Sheriff's Department, who left an urgent message for her to call him back. When she did, she was shocked -- and terrified -- to hear that she had failed to appear for jury duty and an arrest warrant would soon be coming.

Let us ask you: if this happened to you, would you keep your cool? Probably not -- and that's part of the scam.

Learn From Others

In the case of Ms. Napier, an attorney who practiced family law for 32 years, she was caught completely off guard. The Lt. Yates on the phone informed her that she had failed to appear for jury duty and she needed to post an immediate bond for $750 on two charges or she would be arrested within 24 hours. She frantically made her way down to her bank.

Fortunately, however, her demeanor alerted the teller and bank manager. It turned out that it was all a scam -- albeit a very convincing one.

Old News, Apparently

This apparently isn't anything new, according to the Courier-Journal. U.S. District Court Clerk Vanessa Armstrong says that this scam has basically been reported in every single federal jurisdiction but that its frequency has picked up recently.

Unfortunately, some people have already been bilked out of real money -- at least two of them lawyers. A neurologist nearly got taken for a ride until his wife rather luckily mentioned that a neighbor of his had coincidentally received a similar call.

Yates on "Yates"

The Lt. Yates that can contacted Ms. Harrington has been giving the real Lt. Col. Carl Yates a bad name. And there seems to be very little that law enforcement can do to catch the criminals so far. A deputy went to Georgia based on a lead that would have had the scammer cornered -- or so he thought. By the time he got there, no dice.

Overseas Fraudsters

The criminals "spoof" a local number in order to make the call seem legitimate. Sometimes the real origin of the call could be another state -- or even another country overseas. Other complex schemes involved burner phones that can be thrown away after they've been used which make tracing virtually impossible.

Lawyers, accountants, doctors, beware. Fraudsters are now using smoother, subtler ways to cheat you out of your money. Criminals are getting smarter.

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