The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 21, 2012

Prank call is no joking matter


CNHI News Service

SHARON, Pa. — If it was meant as joke, no one seems to be laughing.

Someone has been calling local residents telling them they could go to jail and pay a fine for not showing up for jury duty.

The problem is the calls are not coming from the courts. Peter Morin, who coordinates schedules for the county’s four common pleas courts, said he's handled several inquiries from worried townspeople.

“People have called here somewhat upset,” said Morin. “They ask, ‘Am I going to have to pay money? Am I in trouble?’ ”

Some of the prank messages come in the form of a text message stating the recipient must call a phone number with a Charlotte, N.C., area code for more information

When they call the number, a man’s voice says it’s an “urgent message from the National Justice Center” saying pending jury duty was ignored.

The voice says failing to respond is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or a 30-day prison sentence.

For those listening to the entire call there is a disclaimer telling listeners that a number of other antics are available at humorhotlines.com.

That website offers things like joke medical advice, a sex addiction help line, bad breath notification and “how to keep an idiot entertained.”

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Details for this story were provided by The Sharon (Pa.) Herald.