LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Most of us dread the idea of jury duty but it is our civic duty. A warning about a hoax that may have you headed for the courthouse when you don't have to go. Call for Action Investigator Genevieve Judge explains.
If you're a Lee County resident, most likely you've received a jury summons to go to the Lee County Justice Center. But Call for Action uncovered a hoax that almost left one woman, who thought she was doing the right thing, in trouble with her boss.
"I got a phone call and a voice mail that said I needed to show up for jury duty," said Shelley Safly, jury scam victim.
And with that call, Safly showed up on the day and time she was told to.
"When I showed, there was not a civil jury that day or federal," said Safly.
Safly had been, had. Call for Action discovered it's part of two separate hoaxes going on involving Lee County residents.
"Its just a silly joke but its just an unfortunate disrespectful, I think action, on the part of someone," said Linda Doggett, with the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
Doggett says in the last several months, bogus phone calls have been made and text messages have even been sent, telling people they have jury duty when they really don't.
"It's a joke. It starts very formally telling them that they are facing fines and jail sentences because they didn't respond to their jury summons," said Doggett.
The text message hoax tells you to call a number, 704-319-7254. When you call, the message says this:
"If you are hearing this message, it means that our records indicate you failed to appear for jury duty last Monday morning at 9 a.m."
But if you listen to the whole thing, you'll learn by the end, if you listen that far or don't push "two," it's an attempt to trick someone into believing they have jury duty. If you do push two, you could be signing up for a cell phone joke of the day program that ends with your cell phone bill seeing extra charges.
"In much the same way, whoever gave you this number to call, as apparently just tricked you," said the joke message.
"It's a concern. We don't want people turned off from being interested in performing jury service," said Doggett.
For Safly, she missed part of work because of the hoax and had to get a letter from the Lee County Clerk of Courts to her employer to prove where she was. She just hopes her misfortune acts as a lesson for others.
"Do more follow up from the voicemails and definitely if you don't get an accurate jury duty notice, follow up better than I did," said Safly.
So far the Lee County Clerk of Courts isn't aware of anyone losing money or being scammed for the fine that is really a joke. But again they warn, unless you get an official paper notice from the Lee County Clerk of Courts, you're not required to report for jury duty.