Phone scammers tell victims they missed jury duty

Authorities say phone scammers are upping their game, and they're no longer taking "no" for an answer.

Steve Wade of Lakeland knows first hand. He told FOX 13 he got a call from someone who said there was a  warrant out for his arrest because he missed a jury duty date. The caller said if he paid a $950 fine, the warrant would be lifted.

So Wade bought a prepaid card from Paypal. But just to make sure everything was legitimate, Wade decided to stop at a Polk County Sheriff's Office substation. When he got there, he figured out it was all a ruse.

A short time later, Wade got a second call from the scammer. This time he said he was from Paypal and he would credit Wade's account if he handed over his information. Since the number displayed on his cell phone was the real number for Paypal, Wade agreed and lost his money.

"I lost $950. I am going with it. But there are people out there, that's almost it for them," Wade said.

The scammer was doing something called "spoofing," which is electronically using a legitimate phone number to hide the scammer's real number.

"It's really sad those people are prey on victims using intimidation," Polk County Clerk of Courts Stacy Butterfield said.

Sheriff offices and clerk of courts offices said people should check their websites if they think they have missed a court date or have an outstanding warrant. Even if someone does, they said no one will call demanding money to clear it up.