Judge Helps Prominent Local Woman Avoid Falling Prey To Scam

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A prominent local woman was on her way to falling victim to an expensive scam Tuesday when she decided to call the judge whose name had been mentioned by the scam artist.

Paula Henderson said the call to General Sessions Court Judge Christie Sell alerted her to the fact that she was being played by a crook.

Ms. Henderson said she got a call from a "Lt. John Roberts" who told her she had failed to show up for jury duty and was in danger of going to jail or face a $400 fine.

She was told that the matter could be settled if she would load some money onto a card and then relay the information about the card to the "lieutenant."

Ms. Henderson was told that the action against her was out of the court of Judge Sell.

A frantic Ms. Henderson stopped long enough to send this message to Judge Sell, who is a friend:

"I was served for jury duty in your court in Feb., but it was sent to my 4 year old address on Market St.  Now they are going to arrest me or charge me a $400 fine.  The warrant came from you.

Can you help me??
 

I am talking with Lt John Roberts @ 356-2987.

Thanks, Paula"

Judge Sell said she immediately called Ms. Henderson and told her not to go to Walgreen's to put the money on the card. The judge also told her to call the police. She told Ms. Henderson that her court has no dealings with juries and that delinquent jurors are not in danger of going to jail or fined - especially without due process.

Judge Sell said Wednesday, "This is a complete fraud that our citizens should be beware of. It is a travesty when someone tries to undermine the justice system in this way."

She noted that Ms. Henderson has been chosen as a Woman of Distinction and is a Rotary Club member. 

She said she checked with court officials who handle the jurors and was told there have been other similar calls recently. In each case, the "victim" had never been given a jury summons.

Ms. Henderson said, "This could happen to anyone. It seemed really legit up to a point and, if I had not had Christie to speak with and the fact that she followed up on it for me, I could easily have believed their 'con'.  I even mentioned her name to them after they said the 'warrant' had come from her court, knowing that she doesn't do jury trials.  They actually continued to call me last night until 10:30.  I did not answer the phone but recognized the number.

"People should know the Sheriff's Office is not behind this and that the courts don't require money from anyone over the phone for any reason."

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office along with other law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County have received numerous complaints over the last several weeks from citizens concerning the latest “Green Dot Card Scam.” 

Victims are being contacted by phone from a male party who identifies himself as a Lieutenant with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.  The imposter will tell the victim they have failed to appear in court on a warrant, so to avoid going to jail he will direct them to go to WalMart or Rite Aid and purchase a Green Dot Card for a designated amount of money. The victim is then advised to call the imposter back and provide him with the numbers shown on the card.

The HCSO does not follow up on outstanding warrants in this fashion.  The standard practice is to contact the person who may have an outstanding warrant and coordinate with them to either turn themselves in at the jail or Detectives assigned to the Fugitive Division will physically apprehend the individual.

If anyone receives a phone call from a person representing themselves as law enforcement and asking the person to obtain a “Green Dot Card” or anyone having knowledge of the identity of those perpetrating this scam, should immediately contact the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office at 423 209-8940.



Bank Again Trying To Unload Dilapidated, Once-Stately Signal Mountain Home Still Valued At $303,400 By Assessor’s Office

To quote Yogi Berra, this week must feel like “déjà vu all over again” to Cleveland Realtor Hank Wilson.   Last Thursday, Mr. Wilson learned that Deutsch Bank – which owns the once-stately, spacious 4-bedroom house at 17 Middle Creek in Signal Mountain – had rejected a $167,000 bid on the property on the online auction site Hubzu. At that time, real estate site ... (click for more)

Teenager Shot In Drive-By Shooting On West 38th Street

Javier Lansden, 18, was shot early Sunday morning on West 38th Street. At approximately  2:47 a.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 264 Water Street for a person shot.  Officers found that the shooting occurred at 263 West 38 th  Street.  The victim stated he was sitting on his bicycle at 263 West 38 th  Street, when a dark-colored ... (click for more)

How To Be #ChattanoogaStrong

Chattanooga is my home; I was born here 35 years ago. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most challenging times in our city's history. The #ChattanoogaStrong hashtag will remain for quite some time, but it means so much more than 18 characters on social media. It represents the sorrow and mourning, as well as the resilience and compassion, of our exceptional community.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Navy Denies Any Charges

UPDATE: A spokesman for the U.S. Navy on Sunday denied reports that disciplinary charges will be filed against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for discharging an unauthorized weapon on federal property.   According to a post of Facebook and other social media sites, a statement reads, “Stories of Navy personnel being charges with an offense are not true. There is still a long way ... (click for more)

CFC Returns To National Championship With 3-0 Semifinal Win

The Chattanooga Football Club didn't score until the 69th minute but after Chris Ochieng's first goal, they would score two more to earn a 3-0 win over visiting Indiana Fire.   The NPSL national semifinal win, before more than 9,200 fans, gives Chattanooga another shot at a national championship after losing to the New York Red Bulls U23 team in the 2014 final.   ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Chattanooga FC Shuts Out Indiana By 3-Nil