Dear Editor:

This happened to me in Moab. Please share widely.

A caller posed as a local police officer and said I missed my jury summons for an important criminal case in Moab last month.

Apparently, the judge was upset that a number of people missed the jury summons, and he was pressing charges. I was being charged with Failure to Appear and Contempt of Court and being charged $1000’s in fines for each offense. I explained that I never received a notice for jury duty.

The man (on the phone) said I need to come down to the police office (or maybe it was the courthouse?) and pay the fines today to avoid being arrested for these charges. I would then get a court date to settle the matter and would likely have most of my money refunded after the court appearance. He said that there was a gag order for the case I missed, and I couldn’t contact anyone about it. He said my cell phone was being monitored, and that I was not to send any texts or use social media, and he was tracking my location with the GPS. I was not allowed to hang up.

I checked my bank account and did not have the said amount of money on hand. He said that I could pay part of the fine though a payment plan, but that I would likely not have it all refunded through the court process. 

I broke down, scared and confused. Was I going to be arrested? Who was going to pick up the kids? Could I pay those bills that were due in a few days? He pretended to talk to his supervisor, and work towards some sort of leniency in the payment system since I was being compliant. 

He kept me on my cell phone the entire time, and had me state my location and when I was entering or leaving my car. He asked for my car license plate before I stepped into my car and pretended to scan it. I was instructed to get the cash from my bank and to purchase a voucher for the fine.

Now when this “voucher” ended up a prepaid credit card from the Dollar General, I definitely became suspicious, but I proceeded to purchase it.

When I returned to my car, he wanted the information on the card to confirm I had purchased the right item to make the payment. I refused to give the information and he had me make an “official” statement about being non-compliant and said that he was sending officers my way. I told him that I was going back into Dollar General and having the store call 911 (because I was scared he was sending someone to come take the cards from me). He then hung up, and I spoke with the Moab City Police Department about the incident.

I did not lose any money (well, technically a few dollars for the prepaid cards) because I knew not to give someone financial information over the phone, but I was not familiar with the legal process so I got played pretty hard, wasting an hour of my time and draining quite a bit of emotional energy.

The officer claimed to be Sam Jenkins, and called from 435-558-1226.

Please share this far and wide so that no one in our community is tricked by this scam.

A local police officer told me that they will never call you up asking you to deal immediately with a financial matter and that they will never threaten you. I will say that the way my scammer handled the call, it was always about being compliant … it sounded legit until he started getting deeper into the money part.

Dana Witwicki