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Jury Duty Phone Scam

Friday, April 1, 2016 15:14

Warn_GlobeA variation of the bogus computer support phone scam, the fake jury duty scam tries to pressure a victim into paying a fine or fee over the phone.

Scammers posing as federal marshals or court representatives call a target victim, claiming the victim failed to show up for jury duty. With a high pressure pitch, using tactics such as threats of arrest by federal marshals, the scammers attempt to con the victim into paying a “fine” via credit card or wire transfer. The scammers are relying on the average person’s lack of certainty with the law combined with the threat of legal actions to pressure the user into caving in and paying a bogus “fine”.

In truth, a court would not threaten an individual or make demands for immediate payments over the phone for failure to appear for jury duty.

Sophos Labs ( an IT security research company) has some common advice for any phone scam.

  1. Hang up. Now. You’re better able to make a calm, collected assessment of the call when you’ve put some distance between you and the caller.
  2. Find an official way to call back. Don’t rely on anything you’re told by the caller (even if you aren’t suspicious), especially if that’s a phone number or a web address that they gave you.
  3. Be aware of federal court policy on the failure to appear for jury service, of which the US Court says this: “Typically, jurors who miss jury duty will be contacted by the court Clerk’s Office and may, in certain circumstances, be ordered to appear in court before a judge. A judge will impose any fine for failure to appear for jury duty during an open session of court [our emphasis], and the summoned juror will be given the opportunity to explain the failure to appear before any fine would (or is) be imposed.”
  4. Hang up and contact your local court clerk’s office or US Marshals Service office to check for any potential charges.

Related Links

Sophos Lab Article on Jury Duty Phone Scams

FBI’s page on Jury Duty Scams

Bannock County Clerk’s Jury Duty Page