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New scam hitting local professionals

BY Brian Powers - bpowers@chronicle-tribune.com

Phone scams threatening people with jail time if they do not pay a fee are not a new concept. What is new, however, are the latest reports coming in.

According to Grant County Superior Court I Judge Jeffrey Todd, area dentists are being called and told they have missed jury duty and must pay a fine or go to jail. The caller was claiming to be Lt. Kevin Carmichael. Todd said he believed the caller asked for $2,000 to be paid in the form of a prepaid debit card.

Lt. Carmichael is an actual employee of Grant County; he is the Grant County Jail Commander. To say Carmichael was surprised to hear about the scam would be an understatement.

“It’s crazy they’re using my name,” he said.

Carmichael said the first calls came in around 11 a.m. Tuesday and there have been about half a dozen reports from the local area code. Calls have came from various 765 numbers, one of which was traced to Martinsville, according to Todd.

“If someone misses something related to the courts, a deputy will come serve them papers in person,” Carmichael said. “They would never receive a phone call demanding payment over the phone.”

Carmichael stressed people should try to abstain from answering calls from unfamiliar phone numbers, and use common sense such as never giving in to threats and giving up money.

So far, Carmichael reported only one person paying up, but hopes to avoid anyone else succumbing to the scam because a person getting their money back is unlikely to happen.

Judge Todd had similar comments as Carmichael in reference to involvement of the courts or the county.

“The court system in Grant County is not involved and we have no such policy in place,” Todd said.