SCAM: West Seattleite’s warning for you, after she was defrauded by ‘Jury Duty’ scammers

Another scam warning from a West Seattle resident. Cheryl says, “I got scammed today,” and continues:

I was told that I had a warrant for my arrest for failing to appear to two summons to be on Jury Duty.

After a horrific afternoon, and paying money to these crooks through a PayPal cash account, I then met a neighbor downtown who was able to think better than I and said that she was sure that I had been scammed.

One of the points that they made is that I was to meet with one of the Superior Court Judges who would release the warrant and not make me pay money as, actually, they don’t ask folks over 75 to serve. So, at this point, I began to think about this situation, and I went on the King County Superior Court Judges site and lo & behold, there was a section, ‘Senior Fraud.’ It was Alert #1. I totally fell for this scam; it was at the point where “Officer Randall McKenzie” told me that he could not guarantee that a deputy would not come to take me to jail over the weekend. THAT got me and I rushed off to get the money through the PayPal cash card.

There were several hints that I was not dealing with “real” officers, but the threat of jail made me lose focus. Although I had gotten a name and badge number, it was all bogus.

So I am encouraging you to copy and send this note out to your Elderly friends and relatives — wherever they live – because this sort of fraud is ubiquitous. There is also a Seattle City Light scam going around, folks phoning Elders, telling them that their SCL bill has not be paid and that they need to pay it right now.

That one targets businesses too, as mentioned here earlier this week (and SCL has its own page about scams).

20 Replies to "SCAM: West Seattleite's warning for you, after she was defrauded by 'Jury Duty' scammers"

  • Alvis May 1, 2015 (9:45 pm)

    Another apparent phone scam this week is an after hours robo-call claiming to be from Seattle Utilities and warning the recipient to call a certain phone number and “confirm” customer account details or else forfeit one’s senior citizen discount.

  • carole May 1, 2015 (10:46 pm)

    I got a voice mail from the same Randall McKenzie today, twice no less, referencing a warrant. Figured it was a scam, did not call back. I worked for court many years. Know they don’t issue warrants related to jury duty.

  • alki resident May 1, 2015 (11:13 pm)

    Do these scammers leave voice messages or wil they only speak when you answer phone? Reason Im asking is ,if the victims were to not answer their phone if they don’t recognize number, then the risk of being scammed lessens.

  • LyndaB May 2, 2015 (12:45 am)

    I’ve had IRS scammers leave a phone message. I think screening calls helps a lot.

  • Neighbor May 2, 2015 (7:48 am)

    Are these calls coming in on land lines only? I only have a mobile but I’ve noticed in the past few weeks a lot of calls from out of state numbers that I don’t know. I answered one because i have a relative in that state but it was a robocall solicitiation

  • Sniowflake May 2, 2015 (8:01 am)

    Cheryl, you should contact PayPal, I’m pretty sure you could get your money back. If you need help, reach out to a friend who uses PayPal and see if they can help you navigate it.

  • JTB May 2, 2015 (9:12 am)

    There is also an email notification about a mandatory court appearance with instructions to open a link for time and directions. If anyone is involved in any legal action, it could be easy to open it before noticing the sender doesn’t have a .gov extension and it refers generically only to “courthouse” rather than the name of a county or city building. This one seems likely to be simply a phishing scam but who knows, it could be one of the computer lock out and extortion schemes.

  • CLL May 2, 2015 (9:39 am)

    I would call PayPal directly ASAP and they can put a stop to the payment or investigate the transaction and possibly issue you a refund.

  • GamingGirl May 2, 2015 (10:43 am)

    Please do contact PayPal, they are very good about dealing with fraud charges usually, although the thieves may have been using a stolen PayPal account – or have already shut it down and moved on. But PayPal may still be able to help somehow.

  • carole May 2, 2015 (11:17 am)

    I have also been getting solicitation calls on my cell from out of state numbers. They leave an automated voice mail, usually those reduce your credit card interest ones. I just add the numbers to the reject list.

  • Freddie May 2, 2015 (1:56 pm)

    Seriously at what point when they said pay over PayPal did you not realize it was a scam?? It’s like the old Western Union scams back in the day.

    • WSB May 2, 2015 (2:17 pm)

      Freddie, it’s easy to say that when you’re not the one on the phone with someone very official sounding, and the fear and the adrenaline kick in and cloud your thinking … hindsight being 20:20 and all that. People really do fall for these things, as unbelievable as it sounds. I knew someone – intelligent person, not even elderly for that matter (it’s kind of a myth that ONLY older people fall for these things) – who refused to believe, about a decade ago, that the “Nigerian e-mail scam” was a scam. She was sure that if she just sent them that “small” amount of money they wanted, she would get the larger sum they promised. The guy sounded so nice and real! Sigh. Don’t give anyone money, don’t give anyone your personal information, don’t open e-mail attachments … so many more “don’ts” nowadays.

  • New to West Seattle May 2, 2015 (2:13 pm)

    A couple years ago I had a guy calling me periodically telling me he was a “special agent” and if I did not call back by certain deadlines a judgment against me was going to be filed. I actually called a couple lawyers for a consultation and the one lawyer said he was pretty certain based on the context of the call that it was a scam. He suggested the next time the guy called to give him the address of the closest police precinct and tell him that you’ll meet him there. He stopped calling after that.

  • AMB May 2, 2015 (2:44 pm)

    Cheryl, I am so sorry this happened to you. Thanks for being brave enough to share this with your community so others can avoid this happening to them. You are brave because it’s sadly predictable that the Freddies of the world would step right up to judge you. Way to go, Freddie, kick a gal while she’s down and discourage people from coming forward in the future.

  • JayDee May 2, 2015 (2:58 pm)

    I got a robo-message that the IRS was going to sue me…The IRS, if it sues me will send the notice USPS in a plain gray government envelope. So ignore any caller/message saying the IRS is suing you. If they do, they won’t be leaving threatening messages.

  • Rick May 2, 2015 (3:31 pm)

    In my experience, you’ll see an agent with a gun and a badge demanding payment first. At that point, I was fairly convinced it was for real. No phone calls.

  • G May 2, 2015 (8:01 pm)

    Yes, these scams work because they catch you absolutely unprepared (who’s thinking about receiving a call from a scam artist?). In the case of the IRS scam, who HASN’T worried about whether they’ve done their tax return correctly? A thousand thoughts go racing through your head. Tell me YOU won’t have moment of panic? For those who laugh, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when it happens to YOU.

  • WestSide45 May 3, 2015 (9:20 am)

    I really enjoy receiving these calls and keeping the scum on the line as long as possible. Eventually they get irritated when they discover they were being led on. I had one chew me out for wasting his time!

  • Cheryl May 3, 2015 (2:25 pm)

    Thank you everyone for your validating comments. Of course, now I can look back at ALL of the clues that I ought to have paid attention to. It was the thought of being 78 and having a deputy come to my home and put handcuffs on me and taking me to jail that “got me.” Enough said. I do want to appreciate those who understand how really “true” it can seem in spite of everything.

  • Enviromaven May 3, 2015 (9:16 pm)

    Seriously, Freddie – grow some empathy. Con artists prey on people’s vulnerabilities, and “being 78…and put in handcuffs” isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time. Cheryl, I’m so sorry these jerks got to you. Here’s hoping that PayPal will offer some kind of resolution.

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