A telephone scam is cropping up in several eastern Iowa counties which threatens those who skip out on jury duty with arrest and a fine. Victims of the scam are told in a recorded message they’ve missed jury duty and an arrest warrant is being issued.

Judy Carlin, the clerk of district court for Cedar and Scott counties, says the call is bogus, but it sounds authentic enough to send people into a panic. Carlin’s office in Davenport is getting multiple calls a day about the scam.

Carlin says, “They’re calling our office, saying, ‘Somebody called us and said there’s a warrant out for our arrest because we didn’t serve on jury duty. I called this 700-number and they say if you want to pay $500, press one…'”

Carlin says court clerks in other Iowa counties are getting the same calls from worried people. She says if people were to listen to all of the options on the recording, they’d realize they’d been had. “It’s a joke, it’s like a prank thing,” Carlin says.

“The last option, four, is ‘If you can give us five of your friends with their phone numbers…’ so, it’s all a joke.” While the call is a prank, Carlin says it’s no joke that jurors are needed.

“The government gets a bad enough name for itself and this is just something that has nothing to do with us,” Carlin says. “We need jurors to come in and it’s just one more thing to deter that. We put out a press release warning, this is not us.”

If you’re summoned, she says it’s your duty to serve. Those who ignore the real summons could face a contempt charge and a fine, but it’s not administered over the phone.

Carlin says the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has been made aware of the scam but it’s unclear if any charges will be pursued.