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Law enforcement scams threatening jailtime if you don’t pay on the rise in Utah

May 7, 2024, 11:36 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Cris Meyers was doing his job, driving rideshare when he got a call from law enforcement.

“He said, ‘The reason I’m calling is you refused to come to jury duty – or grand jury duty,’” Meyers said of the call.

Meyers believes he never would have given the caller the time of day had it not been for his battle with cancer. He said the meds can make him a bit foggy.

“We used to joke about me having, ‘chemo brain,’” he said.

Meyers entering his Lyft car.

Cris Meyers entering his Lyft car. (KSL TV)

The pretend-officer sent Meyers a very real-looking arrest warrant informing him that he needed to pay $9,000. It’s a bond he would get back if he showed up in court. He was also presented with an alternative if he didn’t pay up: spend 30 days in jail.

Meyers said he panicked. Going to jail and missing medical treatment could literally kill him.

“I said, ‘There’s no way I can do that.’”

Meyers is one of several Utahns who have been targeted recently.

In the past week, the Millard County Sheriff’s Office, the Farmington Police Department, the Cedar City Police Department, and the Salt Lake City Police Department have issued warnings that they see a significant uptick in scams by impersonators using their names to threaten people with jail time for missing jury duty – unless they pay up.

Meyers explain what the fake cop told him about his fake arrest.

Cris Meyers explains what the fake officer told him about his fake arrest warrant. (KSL TV)

New data from the Federal Trade Commission shows that Americans lost more than $1.1 billion to impersonation scams.

“There were just so many things that were totally off base,” Meyers said of the scheme that ensnared him.

But in this case, being in good company is little consolation to him and other victims.

“It was very scary,” he said.

In Meyer’s case, the con artists demanded he transfer the funds using a Bitcoin exchange machine that they referred to as a “treasury department machine.”

Typically, they will ask their victims to pay via cryptocurrency, gift cards, or some other virtually untraceable payment method. Bona fide police or government agencies will never demand payment in these forms.

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Law enforcement scams threatening jailtime if you don’t pay on the rise in Utah