Beware of Nationwide Scam: Impersonators Target Citizens with Fake Calls Threatening Arrest for Jury Duty

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Scammers impersonating law enforcement officers, including U.S. Marshals, have been threatening individuals with arrest for not appearing for jury duty, prompting caution from Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan and U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg. The Middle District of Florida has seen a rise in reports of victims falling prey to this nationwide scam. The scammers provide detailed personal information about the victims, such as addresses and dates of birth, to make their tactics more convincing. They may even use real names of federal judges or court employees, genuine court addresses and phone numbers, case and badge numbers, and “spoof” phone numbers on caller IDs to appear legitimate.

To avoid arrest, the scammers demand immediate payment of fines through methods like purchasing prepaid debit or gift cards or making electronic payments. However, Chief Judge Corrigan categorically stated that these calls are fraudulent, emphasizing that no judge or court official would ever ask for credit card or financial information over the phone. U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg highlighted the seriousness of the scam, pointing out that scammers are trying to defraud citizens by exploiting their sense of civic duty.

Authorities are urging residents of the Middle District of Florida who have been targeted by such scams to report the incidents to the Federal Trade Commission and their local FBI Field Office. It is important to know that courts always send jury summons by U.S. Mail and will never ask for payment over the phone. Any fines will only be imposed after an individual has appeared in court and had the opportunity to explain their absence.

Preventative facts have been provided to protect potential victims from falling for this scam. These include instructions to disregard calls asking for credit/debit card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers, and to report scams to the District Court Clerk’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, or Federal Trade Commission. Authenticating a call can be done by contacting the Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Court using the phone numbers provided on the Court’s website.

In summary, residents of the Middle District of Florida need to beware of scammers posing as law enforcement officers and demanding payment for not appearing for jury duty. These fraudulent calls are convincing, using personal information and legitimate-looking details to deceive victims. However, it is crucial to remember that genuine court officials will never ask for payment or personal information over the phone. If targeted by this scam, individuals should report the incidents and seek assistance from appropriate authorities.