MARIETTA - Washington County Common Pleas Court and Marietta Municipal Court are warning residents not to be fooled by a suspicious message about missed jury duty appearances that have been circulating throughout the community.
"We've been getting calls from people who say their relatives saw their name in the paper and a warrant is going to be issued for their arrest," said Common Pleas Court Bailiff Renee Marshall.
The messages have been circulated in phone calls and text messages. However, neither municipal nor common pleas court issue such notifications, said Marshall.
"The Marietta Municipal Court and Common Pleas Court do not publish that information," she said.
The calls or messages provide a phone number, (704) 319-7254, which the alleged offender can call to pay a fine.
The number does not appear to be part of a financial scam. It does not request any personal or financial information from the caller. Instead, the phone number appears to be part of a practical joke hosted by the website Humor Hotlines.
An automated voice tells callers that they skipped a 9 a.m. jury duty appointment last Monday and prompts them to press one to pay a $500 fine or press two to serve a 30-day jail term. Regardless of what number the caller chooses, the voice tells callers they have a final option.
"You have one final option and we strongly suggest you choose this one. Rather than a $500 fine or a 30-day prison sentence, you may instead choose to pay it forward and pass this phone number to your top 10 most gullible friends and attempt to trick them into thinking this is actually a real failure to appear for jury duty notification."
Those who receive a call that seems suspicious or fake, should simply hang up, said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.
When calls are obviously a joke, it is not necessary to report them. However, if a call or message ever requests financial information or money, it should be reported, said Mincks.
To report such a scam, contact the Marietta Police Department at 376-2007 or the Washington County Sheriff's Office at 376-7070.