Scams Target Citizens with False Jury Service Claims
Published on June 8, 2017 on the United States Courts website
They prey on people’s fear, threatening arrest for a missed summons for jury service. They are jury scammers, and they crop up with enough regularity to keep federal court personnel continually on the alert.
Recent scams in federal courts in South Carolina and Virginia are typical of the fraudsters. Callers impersonating court officials, United States Marshals, or other law enforcement officers telephoned random victims to try to convince them to pay a fine to avoid arrest for failing to appear for jury duty. The callers insisted that their victims bring cash or prepaid credit cards to the courthouse where they arranged to meet them.
A court will always send a jury summons by United States mail and will never demand payment or sensitive information over the telephone. In most cases, a prospective juror who disregards a summons will be contacted by the court clerk’s office and may, in certain circumstances, be ordered to appear before a judge. A fine may be imposed but not until the court appearance, during which an individual has the opportunity to explain a failure to appear.
Fraudulent callers sometimes disguise their phone numbers so that they appear to be court or law enforcement numbers on the recipients’ caller ID; they also sometimes transfer victims during the calls to create the illusion that they are speaking with government offices.
Impersonating a federal official is a federal crime punishable by a jail terms or a fine, or a combination of the two.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a scam should not provide the requested information and should immediately report the incident to their local FBI office.