2 ex-inmates in Georgia accused of Pennsylvania jury scam

AP News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2015 4:27 PM

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Two former Georgia state prison inmates have been jailed there on charges they phoned western Pennsylvania residents and scammed six into wiring $990 each, supposedly to pay fines for missing jury duty.

The Allegheny County sheriff's office in Pittsburgh said it expects more victims to emerge as it continues investigating suspects Antonio Jones and Taurus Thurmond.

The sheriff's office said it learned of the scam on Easter weekend when about 30 people called saying they'd received phone calls about fines for missing jury duty.

Investigators said they traced the calls to phones with the Pittsburgh region's 412 area code and tied the phones to the suspects through the Georgia State Probation system.

The jury duty scam "appears to be a widespread operation that is linked to inmates within the Georgia state prison system," Allegheny County Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus said.

The callers would identify themselves as deputies or lieutenants with the sheriff's office, giving false surnames, then would tell the people being called they had missed jury duty. Those called were told to go to Wal-Mart to wire money to an account.

Two deputies from Allegheny County spent three days in Atlanta tracing a transaction with one victim and, in the process, identified five more victims through cellphone and bank records, the sheriff's office said.

Jones, of Conley, Georgia, and Thurmond, of Carrollton, Georgia, were in the Fulton County jail awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania on Monday and couldn't be reached for comment. Online court records didn't list defense attorneys for the men, who are charged with theft, conspiracy, impersonating a public servant and other crimes.

Jones and Thurmond are believed to have met while serving sentences at Georgia's Autry State Prison, investigators said.

It was unclear when the men will be moved to Pennsylvania to face the charges.