MIAMI, FLORIDA – The U.S. District Court and U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida issued a warning on Monday about a nationwide scam targeting unsuspecting individuals who fail to show up for jury duty. Scammers, pretending to be U.S. Marshals or government officials, call people and threaten them with arrest if they do not pay a fine for missing jury duty. The scammers then guide the victims through purchasing prepaid debit or gift cards or making electronic payments to settle the supposed fine. Several Florida counties, including Nassau, Orange, and Pinellas, have reported multiple cases of this scam.
In response to the alarming rise in such incidents, Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan and U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg urged the public to stay vigilant and not fall victim to these fraudulent calls. Corrigan emphasized that these calls are entirely fraudulent, and individuals should not disclose any credit card or financial information to the scammers posing as judges or court officials.
Anyone who believes they have been targeted by this scam is encouraged to report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The public should be aware of the warning signs indicating a potential scam. Scammers often possess detailed personal information about their victims, including addresses and date of birth. To make their calls appear legitimate, they manipulate the caller ID to display a court or government agency’s number. Furthermore, they promise the victims that they can avoid arrest by paying an immediate fine and then coerce them into purchasing prepaid debit or gift cards or making electronic payments to settle the fine.
Impersonating court officials and threatening individuals with fake fines have become a “resurgent” trend in recent years. Similar scams have been reported in places like Hamilton County, Ohio, where a man paid $400 to a scammer after missing jury duty. Connecticut court officials and Miami authorities have also cautioned residents about related scams.
As a civic duty, participating in jury duty is an essential responsibility that the United States Courts deem significant. However, research shows that fewer than 5% of summoned individuals end up serving on a jury, according to a report by the National Center for State Courts.
The federal Judiciary takes these scams seriously, as it is against the law for anyone to falsely represent themselves as a federal court official. U.S. Courts have emphasized that jury service is an important public service, and scammers trying to defraud citizens using their sense of civic duty should be held accountable.
In conclusion, the U.S. District Court and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida have issued a warning about a nationwide scam targeting individuals who miss jury duty. Scammers, posing as U.S. Marshals or government officials, threaten arrest unless victims pay a fine. It is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and report any instances of this scam to relevant authorities. Additionally, individuals should refrain from sharing personal and financial information with unknown callers.