SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) – Scammers are calling people in Santa Cruz County claiming to be sheriff’s deputies and telling them they should use a money card to pay $500 fines for missing jury duty, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

The male perpetrator of the scheme calls victims while pretending to be “Lt. Pierson” or “Sgt. Joseph Kelly” and warns them they need to pay the $500 over the phone using a Green Dot-brand prepaid cards, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Kelly Kent.

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The caller tells victims that if they do not pay the bond for missing jury duty, they will face immediate arrest, Kent said.

So far, the victims of the swindle range in age from 52 to 62 years old and no one has sent in money except for a 62-year-old woman who agreed to place $2,000 on a cash card, Kent said.

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Scammers like the Green Dot cards because they are reloadable debit cards but are not linked to bank accounts and the transactions are untraceable, sheriff’s officials said.

The sheriff’s office does not call people asking them to make payments on Green Dot cards and if someone fails to appear for jury duty, they receive a post card in the mail with contact instructions printed on it, Kent said.

The best thing people contacted by the scammer can do is to say they are aware of the scam and to give “the caller a piece of their mind,” Kent said.

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