More than 20 percent of the population in Payson is of retirement age, compared to a national average of 13 percent.
Unfortunately, the scammers understand the demographics of Rim Country perfectly.
Scammers do their homework. They know who to call and what to say. They can put you on the defensive in seconds and have you telling them everything they want to know.
“Not me!” you may be saying. “I’m too smart to fall for one of their scams.”
Suppose your phone rings and you pick it up. The caller, sounding very cold and official, identifies himself as the clerk of the court in Globe, tells you that you have twice failed to report for jury duty, and asks whether or not you know that it is an offense punishable with up to sixth months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Shocked, you say never received any jury notices.
Colder than ever, he tells you he cannot take any evidence over the phone, that the only reason for his call is that Arizona law requires that you be contacted and told that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
Shocked even worse, you ask if there isn’t anything you can do about it. He tells you no. He states your middle name and asks you to verify it. You do.
He states your street address. You verify it.
Then he says, “In that case, Mrs. Elvira T. Ames, of 222 Elm Street, Show Low, Arizona, 85901, Social Security number 078-05-1120, it is my duty to inform you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, and....”
“B-But,” you say, “that’s not my address. The street number is the same, but I don’t live in Show Low, I live in Payson. And the Social Security number is wrong too.”
He says, “I’m sorry, I cannot take any evidence.”
You say, “But I swear. You have the right name and address, but the wrong city and Social Security number.”
“Hold on,” he says. “Let me talk to my supervisor.”
You wait a full five minutes. A female voice comes on and says, “This is supervisor Ellendorf. I need you to verify....”
Is there any chance you are not going to give that woman any piece of information she asks for to get out of the jam you’re in?
Scammers are good. In fact, they are very good.
Here, direct from the FBI is a hot new warning about jury scams.
“The scam’s bold simplicity may be what makes it so effective. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.”
If anyone calls, for any reason whatsoever, and asks for information for “verification purposes,” do what the FBI advises you to do—hang up.
That’s it. Just hang up.
“They get you scared first,” says a special agent in a field office who has heard many complaints about this scam. “They get people saying, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m not a criminal. What’s going on?’”
Remember! Just hang up.