By Brian Livingston
Local officials are warning residents to beware of a caller claiming to be a local county prosecutor asking for money for missed jury dry.
Donna Jill Johnson, the Lauderdale County Circuit Court Clerk, said one person was duped into giving $2,000 to the scammers after being told to pay the money or be arrested for not showing up for jury duty.
"We have scams all the time but what sets this one apart from all the others is that the people behind the scam are using the name of the county prosecutor, Justin Cobb, to scare people into sending them the money," Johnson said Thursday. "No judge or county official would demand payment over the phone to avoid arrest."
Cobb, in a statement sent Wednesday, said the voice on the telephone is not him. He said that they public should know there are penalties for not appearing for jury duty, but such penalties would never be collected through random phone calls, and that no one from his office request residents to pay with a prepaid card.
"If in doubt, a person should contact the Court Clerk to question whether such is legitimate," Cobb wrote in the statement. "I encourage the public to question any random solicitation over the phone."
Cobb said in the release it is extremely troublesome that someone would falsely used his name and position to threaten people in order to get money. The release said he wanted the public to know about the scam so that there will not be other victims.
A scam alert was issued by authorities at the Meridian Police Department later Thursday advising residents to call the Lauderdale County Circuit Court Clerk's Office at 601-482-9731 if they receive such a call.
Residents are also encouraged to call the police department or the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office.