Beware of Scam Targeting Jurors in Erie County Courthouse as New Trial Term Begins

Erie, Pennsylvania – As jury trials begin at the Erie County Courthouse this month, authorities are warning the public about a new scam targeting individuals summoned for jury duty. Impersonating officials from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, scammers are calling residents from a spoofed number and falsely claiming that they have failed to report for jury duty. The scammers then demand the payment of a fine, purportedly refundable upon receipt.

Bob Catalde, the district court administrator for the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, revealed that the scammer manipulates caller identification, making the calls appear as if they are coming from the courthouse. “We want to talk to them,” Catalde said, urging those who receive such calls to contact the county jury coordinator’s office at 814-451-6059 to verify their authenticity and report the scam. He emphasized the importance of creating a record to assist law enforcement authorities in taking action.

This is not an isolated incident. Jury scams are an ongoing issue nationwide, often involving fraudulent fines. Just recently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida alerted residents in Orlando and Tampa about a similar scam. In that case, the caller posed as a U.S. marshal or another government official, threatening arrest unless a fine was paid.

The scammers target their victims by providing step-by-step instructions for purchasing prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or making electronic payments to fulfill the demanded ‘fine.’ The U.S. Attorney’s Office reiterated that government officials would never contact individuals in such a manner to collect fines related to jury duty.

Authorities urge residents to remain vigilant and not fall victim to these scams. Public cooperation is crucial in identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. By promptly reporting any suspicious calls to local law enforcement or the appropriate judicial offices, individuals can help protect themselves and prevent others from falling prey to these fraudulent activities.

The impact of jury scams extends beyond the immediate financial loss. Victims may experience emotional distress and a loss of trust in legitimate law enforcement and government agencies. Consequently, it is crucial for people to be alert and educated about these scams. Safeguarding personal information and double-checking the legitimacy of any claims or demands can minimize the risk of becoming a victim.

Remember, law enforcement and government agencies will never demand immediate payment or threaten arrest in relation to jury duty. If you receive a suspicious call regarding jury duty, contact your local authorities and report the incident to protect yourself and others in your community.