IRWINTON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A phone call hoax is making its way around Middle Georgia and tricking victims into thinking they are facing serious punishments for missing jury duty.
If you dial the number, you will hear this.
"Hello, the following is an urgent message from the National Justice Center."
The message says the caller failed to show up for jury duty, ignored several jury summons, and is now facing serious punishment.
"Unfortunately, ignoring these notifications and failing to appear in court for jury duty is a Class Three misdemeanor," the message said.
It sounds legitimate, but it is really a joke.
"It's a prank that apparently is going around in the form of a text," Wilkinson County Clerk of Superior Court Cinda Bright said.
Bright tells 41NBC she first learned of the hoax a week ago. She reached out to other court officials and found out the prank is spreading across the Peach State in Baldwin County, Colquitt County, Haralson County, and Catoosa County. She says the victims receive text messages from friends or family to call a phone number with an area code from North Carolina.
Bright says several people have called her office and thought they were in contempt of court. The message tells the caller he or she is facing a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
"It's very concerning as a citizen to know that you're alarmed [if] you didn't appear for jury duty," Bright said. "It's upsetting a lot of people because they received it thinking that it's a legitimate call from one of our judges and its not. It's very disturbing to me because jury duty is very serious."
If you listen to the entire message, it leaves the caller with another choice.
"Rather than pay a $500 fine or a 30 day prison sentence, you may instead choose to pay it forward and simply pass this phone number along to your top 10 most gullible friends and attempt to trick them into thinking that this is actually a real failure to appear for jury duty notification."
At the end of the message, it says this was a joke and asks the victim to pass it on to their "top10 gullible friends."
Even though it is meant to be funny, this prank is guilty of being fake.
The phone message is from www.humorhotlines.com, which according to the website, says more than 374,000,000 free phone calls have been made to prank people.
Bright says jury summons will never come to citizens via a phone call or text message. You will always receive notification through the mail.