Crime and Justice

Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office warns Vermonters of scam

A scam caller has employed the names of actual Vermont sheriff’s deputies and judges when requesting that people pay a fine for missing jury duty. Photo by Torsten Dettlaff via Pexels

The Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports of scam calls telling residents that they have missed jury duty and face arrest unless they pay a $1,200 fine by gift card or through a wire transfer.

The caller, who was reported to be a male with a Southern accent, has assumed the identity of actual deputies in the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office and has cited the names of Vermont judges in his request for money, according to Lt. Dan Gamelin, who declined to disclose the names being employed.   

Vermont State Court Administrator Teri Corsones said that, if an individual failed to appear for jury duty, they would typically receive a notice to come into court and explain their absence. 

Corsones said judges can technically impose a fine of up to $200 if someone fails to show up to jury duty. Judges could also issue an arrest warrant if they found the juror in contempt, but Corsones said that she “wasn’t aware of that ever happening.”

In the 40 years that Gamelin has worked at the sheriff’s office in Chittenden County, he said he has heard of only two individuals being issued an arrest warrant for failing to show up to jury duty.

Gamelin said he is aware of three people who have received these scam jury-duty calls. One was a college student who lives out of state. Another came into the sheriff’s office on Dec. 2 to pay the $1,200 fine. 

Gamelin said the department doesn’t have any leads about the scammer’s identity.

The department is advising people to hang up if they receive a scam phone call and not to provide any personal information to the scammer. Scam calls can be reported to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.

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Juliet Schulman-Hall

About Juliet

Juliet Schulman-Hall recently graduated from Smith College, majoring in English, minoring in sociology and concentrating in poetry. Most recently, she has worked for MassLive covering abortion and the environment, among other topics. Prior to that, she worked for Ms. Magazine and has done freelance work for PBS's Next Avenue and Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.

Email: jschulman-hall@vtdigger.org

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