ST. MARY PARISH, LA (FOX44) — It may seem like a harmless prank and in some regards it is. However, the St. Mary Police Department has fielded several calls recently regarding a text messaging hoax that fooled its targets a little too well.
Here’s how it works.
A text message is sent to you by a friend. It advises that your name was seen in the newspaper for failing to appear for jury duty. The text then tells you to call a phone number. When you call the number a recording claims to be from the National Justice Center about an “urgent message” in reference to jury duty. The message then gives you the option to pay a $500 fine or go to prison for 30 days for failing to respond to text messages and emails regarding jury duty.
Then you’re given a third option.
If you select the third option, the message then reveals that the whole thing was a practical joke. You’re then encouraged to forward the original text message to an unsuspecting friend.
Although many laugh off the prank and pass it along, keeping the joke alive, others never learned about the true nature of the hoax.
Several individuals contacted the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office about the text, fearing police action for failing to show up for jury duty. They never called the number provided in the text, so the joke was never revealed.
“While, in this case, the outcome of contacting the number in the text is relatively harmless, those who called our office directly did the smart thing,” a representative for the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office, explained. “Jury duty scams do exist and can be implemented in a similar fashion as this practical joke, via text message or email.”
Officials advise that they never send texts or emails to notify potential jurors.