Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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Jury duty scam artist targets Henderson, admits to preying on innocent people

Jeff Johnson — if that’s his real name — wouldn’t call himself the ring leader of the Henderson jury scam, but, as he puts it, “I do my part.”

At least three people have reported to Henderson Police that someone called them claiming they had missed jury duty and insisted they must pay a fine or face arrest, according to Henderson spokesman Keith Paul.

A concerned citizen alerted the Sun to the scam. She said someone had called her saying a warrant would be issued for her arrest if she didn’t pay $494 for failing to appear and $494 for contempt of court. The scammer told her to call “Marshal” Jeff Johnson.

The Sun called the number for Johnson and at first it went to a scratchy voicemail that stated the caller had reached the "Marshal Service of Henderson."

The second time the Sun called, Johnson answered and confessed to being part of the scam.

“What I do is I call poor, innocent people who are law-abiding citizens and coerce them into purchasing whatever I need,” Johnson said after being asked how the scam worked.

He then told the Sun he had to go, but not before making sure the reporter spelled his name correctly — Jeff, with two Fs.

The Sun called back, but the number had been disconnected.

Jury scams have been cropping up across the nation, with Clark County District Court receiving reports of scammers trying to squeeze money from people in October 2013 and in March.

Authorities in Vermont, Georgia, Alabama and Pennsylvania all warned of jury scams this week.

Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said there isn’t much people can do but use their judgement and hang up on the scammers and report phone numbers to Henderson Police. Someone worried about a warrant can call the Henderson Marshal Service hotline at 702-267-3370.

Although jury scams appear to be cropping up more and more these days, they aren’t new. The FBI issued a warning about the scheme in 2006 after several communities reported problems, noting then that the con wasn’t new.

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