Highlighting Honolulu

AARP Hawai`i Receiving Reports of Jury Duty Scam

Posted on 05/17/24

The caller, claiming to be a lieutenant in the Honolulu Police Department, frightened her, says Manoa resident Jody Mishan. He told her in a stern voice that this was an urgent matter and there was a bench warrant for her arrest for failing to show up for jury duty.

The caller ID on her smart phone showed the call was coming from the Honolulu Police Department -- and the caller insisted she needed to get off the important call she had on hold and pay attention to what he was saying. “It was scary. He was very convincing,” Mishan said.

Despite her fear, Mishan had some doubts it was legitimate. Since she was near her computer Mishan searched “jury duty bench warrant scam in Hawaii” and found information on the jury duty scam from the Hawai`i Judiciary. She searched the name the officer gave her but found no one with the name at the online Honolulu Police Department staff directory.

When confronted, the scam caller insisted he was indeed legitimate and not associated with the Judiciary scam article and offered to transfer her to his “captain.” His name wasn’t on the police staff directory either and the scammer finally gave up and hung up on Mishan.

Mishan says her fear turned into anger. Even though she didn’t lose money, she wants to warn others about jury duty scam.

“I worry about people with cognitive impairment falling victim to these scams,” Mishan, who works with dementia caregivers and service providers. “Many older adults may not have access to a computer, or they may live alone and believe what the scammers are saying” she said.

The Hawai`i State Judiciary recently re-issued a issued the warning about jury duty scams in April noting that scammers are posing as police officers, sheriffs and judiciary employees and threatening people receiving the calls with arrest for failing to appear for jury duty, then asking for fees upfront.

“The Judiciary wants the public to know that court staff or law enforcement do not call or email anyone regarding outstanding bench warrants related to jury duty. Generally, all communication from the Judiciary regarding jury service is handled through the U.S. mail, unless you called or emailed the Judiciary first with a specific question,” the warning said.

“Scammers are very smart and they want to scare people so they are thinking with emotion, rather than logic,” said Keali`i Lopez, AARP Hawai`i state director. “Anyone can be a victim. Jody did exactly the right thing by searching for information independently of what the scammers were feeding her. But not everyone is by a computer when scammers call and fear of being arrested can easily lead you to keep talking rather than hanging up on someone.”

For more information on jury duty and other scams, visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatch. If you have been a victim or know of someone who has been scammed, you can call the AARP Fraud Watch Network hotline at 877-908-3360.

This story is provided by AARP Hawaii. Visit the AARP Hawaii page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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