We have a Warrant for your Arrest.

"I am Officer Barnum of the Lincoln Police Department.  This call is to inform you that you have missed jury duty, and the judge has issued a warrant for your arrest.  While I don't really want to do it, I have been authorized to bring you in.

His Honor has fined you $10,000 for the violation.  Now we can take care of this fine easily without you spending a single night in jail.  The Lincoln City Municipal Court has just established a digital payment network for restitution that doesn't tap into personal bank accounts.  All you have to do is withdraw the $10,000 from your account in cash and deposit the funds into the Bitcoin ATM machine on the corner of 2nd and River.  

Have a pen handy?  I'll give you the special digital account number to make the deposit.  I appreciate you cooperation in this serious matter.  Now this is a new pilot program and we are not sure how this will work, so please keep this under your hat until we have made an official announcement." 

Okay, all together now...


This is the latest con reported by Lewis and Clark County residents to the state Office of Consumer Protection.  Recently the OCP intervened in three cases where people almost fell for this fraud, one of whom stood at the Bitcoin machine in Helena.

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Credit: SIphotography, Getty Images, TSM Media Center
Credit: SIphotography, Getty Images, TSM Media Center

How to Spot a Phone Scam

Whether it's this latest jury duty story, or a grandchild in jail, or you won a prize or whatever, there are tell-tale signs of a scam.

Hint #1: Contact is made over the phone.  Neither law enforcement not any other official would use the phone, email to test to contact you.  Legitimate agencies would use the regular mail or reach you face-to-face.

Hint #2: the Urgency.  You're in big trouble and you have to act now to avoid the consequences.  This is a big red flag that the whole thing is fraudulent.  Scammers use the urgency to prevent you from thinking and to instead comply with their wishes.

Hint #3: Payment in Cash or Cryptocurrency.  This is another big red flag.  What governmental agency of any kind accepts cash in the mail or cryptocurrency??

Gentle Reader, these frauds are out there by the thousands, and they come up with new cons every day.  Please remember to be vigilant, trust your intuition or gut feeling, and do not send any money to anyone who entreats you over the phone.  Give yourself the time to think about what's happening.

You are your own best protection from scammers.

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