Florida residents are being targeted by phone calls threatening arrest for failing to comply with federal jury service. The scammer tells the victim that he or she can avoid arrest or other negative consequences by making a payment, which may include purchasing a pre-paid gift card and then giving the card number to the scammer.
The scammer may sound convincing and use real information about the victim, real court addresses, and real names of federal judges to make the scam appear more credible. Scammers may even "spoof" the phone number on caller ID so that the call falsely appears to be from a court number or the number of another government agency.
These phone calls are fraudulent and are not from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the U.S. Marshals Service, or any other law enforcement agency. Do not provide the caller with any personal or financial information.
Here are the facts:
- The court will always send a jury summons by U.S. Mail.
- The court and law enforcement will never demand payment over the phone.
- The court and law enforcement will never demand a gift card number to satisfy an obligation.
- A prospective juror who disregards a jury summons will be contacted through the mail by the court clerk's office and may, in certain circumstances, be ordered to appear before a judge. Such an order will always be in writing and signed by the judge.
- A fine will never be imposed until after the individual has appeared in court and been given the opportunity to explain his or her circumstances. If a fine is imposed, it will be in open court and reduced to writing (and will not be payable by gift card number).
The U.S. Marshals Service and FBI are urging people to report these scams to their local FBI office. Click here to read the U.S. Marshals Service press release for more information.