According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, these fraudulent calls involve perpetrators posing as U.S. Marshals or government officials, coercing victims into paying fines under the threat of imminent arrest.
Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan and U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg revealed that multiple victims from various Florida counties, including Nassau, Orange, and Pinellas, have fallen prey to this scam. In response, they emphatically stated, “Let me be clear: These calls are fraudulent. If you are getting a phone call from someone who is claiming to be a judge or other court official, do not give them any sensitive information like credit card or other financial information.”
Authorities urge individuals who believe they have been targeted to report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Warning Signs of the Scam
The public is advised to remain vigilant for the following red flags associated with the jury duty scam:
- Convincing Information: Scammers may possess detailed information about the victim, including addresses, date of birth, real names of federal judges or court employees, actual court addresses, court phone numbers, and case and badge numbers.
- Caller ID Manipulation: Perpetrators may manipulate the caller ID to falsely appear as though the call originates from a court number or another government agency.
- Immediate Fine Payment: Victims are coerced into avoiding arrest by making an immediate payment, often through purchasing a prepaid debit or gift card or making an electronic payment to satisfy the purported fine.
The news release emphasizes, “In no instance will a court official, U.S. Marshals Service, or other government employee contact someone and demand payment or personal information by phone or email.”
Importance of Jury Duty
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts deems participating in jury duty a civic duty, as juries play a crucial role in deciding the facts of a case in accordance with the law. Despite the summons, a recent report from the National Center for State Courts indicates that less than 5% of Americans end up serving on a jury.
Rising Instances of Jury Duty Scams
This scam is not an isolated incident; there have been reports of similar scams across the United States. Recently, an Ohio man paid $400 to scammers after missing jury duty. Authorities in Alaska, Connecticut, and Miami have also issued warnings about the sophistication of these scams, affecting individuals through phone calls, emails, and messaging.
Chief Judge Nushin G. Sayfie of the Miami-Dade Courts commented on the increasing sophistication of these scams, stating, “These instances are looking pretty sophisticated, and I think we all know the emails we are all getting out there and the phone calls are becoming more and more sophisticated.”
Federal Judiciary’s Stance
The Federal Judiciary emphasizes that it is punishable by law for anyone to falsely represent themselves as a federal court official and such offenses are taken seriously. “Jury service is one of the most important public services a citizen can perform, and it is a serious matter when scammers attempt to use a citizen’s sense of civic duty to defraud them,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg.
In conclusion, the public is urged to stay informed, remain cautious, and report any suspicious activity related to this scam to the relevant authorities.
- U.S. District Court And U.S. Attorney’s Office Warn Public Of Jury Duty Scam, https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/us-district-court-and-us-attorneys-office-warn-public-jury-duty-scam
- People are being targeted by phone call, email, and messaging scams threatening them with prosecution for failing to comply with jury service., https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/jury-service