Sunny Isles Beach woman targeted by jury duty scammer

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A quick-thinking South Florida woman helped police bust a scam artist who, officials said, duped people into thinking they have to pay to avoid jury duty.

Lana Piminova said she felt compelled to share her story. “I’m freaking out,” she said.

What set the Sunny Isles Beach resident’s nerves on edge was a phone scam that, authorities said, is happening across the country. “I spoke with this guy who said his name was ‘Deputy Philipps,'” she said. “He was claiming that I had a warrant out for my arrest for not showing up for jury duty.”

Piminova panicked. “I started thinking, like, ‘No one would notice. Did I see anything in the mail? Maybe my boyfriend got it and didn’t tell me about it.'”

She was asked to purchase a prepaid debit card and give the numbers to the so-called deputy so he could drop the warrant. “He wanted me to purchase the Money Pack for, I think it was $490 and then call him back with information,” she said.

But before she complied with the demands of “Deputy Philipps,” she contacted the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department, where she volunteered when she was in high school.

Police said Piminova is far from the only potential target. “I would just caution everybody to be aware of the scam should they receive that call,” said Sunny Isles Beach Police Cpl. Luke Plesa. “The potential for victimization is widespread.”

Plesa found no warrant for Piminova. A quick Google search revealed the scam is taking place across the country.

“The first flag is that a police officer is trying to collect money from somebody because that would never happen,” said Plesa.

Police also advised residents that they can check with their local clerk of courts to see if they have a warrant. Officials stressed that they should never give money over the phone.

“Preying on other people, especially elderly [citizens], people who might fall for this scam, is despicable,” said Piminova.

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