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.



PHOTOS: Swearing In Ceremony At Convention Center

County officials were sworn in during ceremonies Tuesday morning at the Convention Center (click for more)

Woman's Body Found In River Was Latasha Nichols

Family members say the woman's body found in the Hiwassee River was that of 34-year-old Latasha Nichols. She was reported missing last month. The family said DNA testing was conclusive that the body was hers. Family members say they want to know what caused her death. The viewing will be Wednesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Jim Rush Funeral Homes in Cleveland. The ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)

Fast-Starting Vols Gear Up For Another Mobile QB

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a new week for Tennessee’s football team, but the challenge that awaits in Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon will be a familiar reminder of the one the Volunteers just completed. The Volunteers have a short week to prepare for Arkansas State, a team much like Utah State, which relies heavily on a dual-threat quarterback and a physical front line. ... (click for more)

Chris O'Brien And Andres Santiago Named To Southern League's Weekly Honors

Tuesday, the Southern League announced that Chattanooga Lookouts’ catcher Chris O’Brien has been named Southern League Player of the Week and pitcher Andres Santiago was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for the period of August 25-September 1.  O’Brien is the fourth Chattanooga Lookouts’ position player to earn a weekly accolade from the league this season while ... (click for more)