Orlando, Florida – The U.S. District Court and U.S. Attorney’s Office have issued a warning to the public in Florida about a jury duty scam. Scammers are pretending to be law enforcement officers and threatening victims with arrest if they do not pay a fine. This nationwide scam has seen an increase in reported incidents in the Middle District of Florida, prompting officials to raise awareness and prevent more people from falling victim to these fraudulent schemes.
The scammers employ various convincing tactics, including providing personal information of the victim such as addresses and dates of birth. They may even use real names of federal judges or court employees, along with legitimate court addresses and phone numbers. In some cases, the scammers “spoof” the phone number on the caller ID to make it appear as if the call is originating from a court or government agency. The victims are then told that they can avoid arrest by immediately paying a fine. The scammers guide them through the process of purchasing prepaid debit or gift cards, or making electronic payments to satisfy the supposed “fine.”
It is important for citizens to be aware that these phone calls are fraudulent, and they should never provide personal or financial information to the caller. Court officials, U.S. Marshals Service, or any other government employee will never contact individuals by phone or email to demand payment or personal information.
Chief Judge Timothy J. Corrigan strongly emphasized that the phone calls demanding payment for missing jury duty are fraudulent. He urged individuals not to share their credit card or financial information with anyone claiming to be a judge or court official. Judge Corrigan expressed appreciation for citizens who fulfill their jury service obligations, assuring them that the court always treats them with respect.
U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg highlighted the seriousness of scam artists attempting to exploit a citizen’s sense of civic duty. Handberg stressed that anyone who receives a call threatening them with arrest for missing federal jury duty should not fall for the scam. He urged individuals to immediately hang up the phone and report the incident to the appropriate federal authorities.
Residents of the Middle District of Florida who believe they have been targeted by the jury duty scam are encouraged to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission and their local FBI Field Office.
The Middle District of Florida covers a vast area of approximately 350 miles, from the Georgia border to south of Naples on Florida’s southwest coast. It consists of five divisions in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Ocala, Orlando, and Tampa, and encompasses 35 of Florida’s 67 counties.
To protect oneself from such scams, it is important to keep in mind a few preventive measures. The court always sends jury summons by U.S. Mail and will never ask for credit/debit card numbers, wire transfers, or demand payment over the phone. Disregarding a summons may lead to contact from the District Court Clerk’s Office by mail, and in certain circumstances, individuals may be ordered to appear before a judge. Fines are only imposed after appearing in court and are reduced to writing. It is crucial to report scams to the District Court Clerk’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, or Federal Trade Commission, and individuals can remain anonymous when reporting. Authenticating calls can be done by contacting the Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Court, and the division phone numbers are available on the court’s website.
In conclusion, the U.S. District Court and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Orlando, Florida, are warning the public about a jury duty scam where scammers impersonate law enforcement officers and threaten individuals with arrest if they do not pay a fine. Despite using convincing tactics, such as providing personal information and spoofing phone numbers, these phone calls are fraudulent. Citizens should never disclose personal or financial information over the phone, and court officials or government employees will not contact individuals in this manner. It is crucial to report any incidents to the appropriate authorities to protect oneself and raise awareness about these scams.