I thought I knew how to handle those jerks on the phone. Having experiences several Grandma scams, I felt quick to lecture the kid who was trying to convince me that he was my grandson. He always hung up immediately. 

But when the caller ID said “County Sheriff’s Office,” I thought it was legitimate.

The officer told me there were recently arrived warrants out for my arrest. If I didn’t pay the $989 fine, they would come to my house and arrest me. I explained that I had recently served on jury duty but he assured me I would get refunds if all that proved true. I asked to talk to his supervisor and he calmly gave me a number to call. After a series of prompts, a Captain Grant picked up the call. He verified the information and suggested since it was a Saturday, I best pay the $989 and work it out with the court next week.

Of course I was skeptical but I was even more terrified at the thought of spending a night in jail! I drove to Walmart and took out a $989 MoneyGram that would give the scammer access to the money. I nervously waited out the weekend. 

Early Monday morning I called the police department and they confirmed my fears.

Both the first caller and “Captain Grant” were thousands of miles away serving long sentences for robbery convictions. They made a good team using illegal cell phones playing cops, calling people all around the country. They even got a retired judge to pay so his daughter wouldn’t be sent to jail for missing jury duty.

Actually we should know these facts. The courts always send a jury summons by U.S. mail. A fine can only be imposed in open court.

So with phones in hand and a proven scheme and endless free time, the criminals get to work. They target people in wealthy neighborhoods. They have more money.

My advice for everyone is if someone calls and says you owe money for missing jury duty, hang up on them.

(A fictional account adapted from AARP Magazine.)


JoAn Martin is a retired teacher with five published novels. Reach her at or

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