Scam Alert!


There is a scam happening in Riverside County and across the state in which members of the public are being contacted by con artists claiming to be with either with the Superior Court or the Sheriff’s Department. The scammer then asks for personal identifying information from the intended victim either over the phone or by setting up an in-person meeting.

This scam involves the con artist demanding payment to clear up an outstanding warrant that supposedly has been issued because the victim failed to perform jury duty service.

Payment is usually demanded by the scammer through a pre-paid credit card transaction of some type. There has even been one instance in which the con artist asked the meet the victim at the courthouse in order to collect the “fine” to clear up the warrant.

Please know that these calls or contacts are fraudulent and have no connection whatsoever with the court or sheriff’s department. No court or sheriff’s employee will ever contact you or any member of the public asking for personal or financial information in place of attending jury duty or to clear up any supposed failure to report for jury service.

If you or anyone you know receives a phone call demanding payment for an outstanding warrant for failure to report for jury service, hang up and immediately contact your local law enforcement agency to report this crime.


A prevalent scam that targets primarily seniors is commonly known as the “grandparents scam.”

In this scam, the con artist poses as the grandchild -- or a friend of a grandchild – and either calls or sends an email to the intended victim stating that the grandchild is in a foreign country and is in some sort of trouble (such as financial trouble, illness, or physical danger) and money must be sent to them right away to get them out of the trouble.
These criminals prey on the kindness of a concerned grandparent, who is naturally very concerned and wants to help his or her loved one. The con artist asks for money to be wired quickly and, pretending to be the loved one in trouble, tells the grandparent not to tell anyone.

This particular scam has been around for years and the FBI reports that the Internet Crime Complaint Center (known as IC3 and on the Internet here: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx) has been receiving reports about this scam since 2008. However, since that time, both the scam itself and the scam artists have become more and more sophisticated.

Through the Internet and various social networks, such as Facebook and others, a criminal can more easily uncover personal information about their targets. Having that  sort of personal information makes the impersonations used in this scam more believable. For example, a victim’s actual grandson may mention on a social networking site that he is a photographer who often travels to Mexico. So, for example, when the scam artist calls the grandparent, he will represent that he is calling from Mexico where someone stole his camera equipment and passport.

Often, these scam phone calls may happen late at night or early in the morning when most people are not necessarily thinking clearly.

There are also scenarios in which the con artist may instead pretend to be a police officer, lawyer, or doctor at a hospital calling on behalf of the grandchild. They will represent that the grandchild is in some sort of trouble, such as being arrested or having been in a bad accident.

There have been times that two people are involved in the scam in an attempt to make it seem more realistic, with one person pretending to be the grandchild and then handing the phone to someone else to describe what is supposedly wrong.

Here are some tips from the FBI about what to do if you have been targeted in this scam and how to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

What to do if you have been scammed:

The financial losses in these types of cases -- while substantial for the victim, usually several thousand dollars per victim -- typically don’t meet the FBI’s financial thresholds for opening an investigation. If you think you are a victim of this scam, we recommend filing a Special Prosecutions complaint with the Riverside County DA’s Office (English or Spanish), 
contacting your local law enforcement authorities (link to local police agencies: http://www.rivcoda.org/opencms/resources/agencies.html), or state consumer protection agency (http://www.dca.ca.gov/). We also suggest you file a complaint with the FBI’s IC3, (http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx) which not only forwards complaints to the appropriate agencies, but also collates and analyzes the data -- looking for common threads that link complaints and help identify the culprits.
And, our advice to avoid becoming a victim:
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly
  • Try to contact your grandchild or another family members to determine whether or not the call is legitimate
  • Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an email, especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash -- once you send it, you can’t get it back.

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