COLUMBUS, Ohio — Franklin County Jury Commissioner Robert Condon takes several calls a day, trying to help people navigate what's real and what's fake.
Callers are frantic, Condon said, because they believe they missed jury duty and have been ordered to pay fines. That’s why he's warning people of a jury duty scam.
It's not new, but it's one that has picked up significantly in recent weeks.
People are getting phone calls from someone claiming to be from his office, saying they missed jury duty and have to pay up now.
"I would be scared to know how much money has been taken,” said Condon. “I probably don't want to know that number.”
Just recently he said two envelopes arrived at his office, stuffed with thousands of dollars’ worth of prepaid cards. It was unusual, his office doesn’t normally receive the cards and in this case was able to intercept the scam.
“Thousands of dollars,” he said. “Judges can't even charge you that kind of money. It just blows me away."
Now he's trying to track down who sent them to help them get their money back.
And he’s also looking to equip people with the knowledge of the process to dodge the scam.
“No officer from the court is going to call you and threaten you with a warrant. There has to be a piece of paper. There also has to be a court date," he said.
"For you to get fined by a judge, you have to be in a courtroom in a court hearing with a judge, for them to find you in contempt of court,” he said. “In my time I have not seen a juror get fined for jury duty."
Looking at the big picture, Condon said this is fueling fear into something that's already facing a challenge.
“It's hard enough already to get people to come in for jury duty. It's a task that is not easy to do."
He said the bottom line is that if you did miss jury duty, you will receive a letter in the mail.
And if you aren't sure if it's a scam or not -- here's where you call:
“Call your local court, have them search your name, make sure you're not on jury duty with them, and then try to turn that number over to the Attorney General's Office,” Condon said.