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February 1, 2014
Email scam tells people they’re expected in court

Another ruse threatens arrest for shirking jury duty

An email scam alleging “illegal software use” has been reported in other Southern states, including Georgia, that says recipients are expected to appear in an unspecified state court.

“Anyone receiving such an email in Florida should not open any attachments or click on links in the emails,” said Craig Waters, director of public information for the Florida Supreme Court. “A notice about upcoming court appearances in Florida would not be given to state residents in this manner.”

In Louisiana, Waters said, these emails have impersonated the domain names of well-known law firms and may contain an attachment, supposedly a court notice or summons, or may contain a link to a website. Some reports say that the attachment or link may download a virus into the user’s computer or device.

The attorney general of Louisiana reportedly has launched an investigation.

Juror Scam
In various parts of the United States, citizens are being targeted by phone calls and threatened with prosecution for failing to comply with jury service in federal or state courts, according to a warning posted on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida’s website.

In the calls, the threat of a fine for shirking jury service is used to coerce those called into providing confidential data, potentially leading to identity theft and fraud. These calls are not from real court officials, the court said.

“Federal courts do not require anyone to provide any sensitive information in a telephone call,” the court said. “Most contact between a federal court and a prospective juror will be through the U.S. Mail, and any phone contact by real court officials will not include requests for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information.”

The court said it is a crime for anyone to falsely represent himself or herself as a federal court official. The federal judiciary takes seriously such an offense. Persons receiving such a telephone call should not provide the requested information, and should notify the clerk of court’s office of the U.S. district court in their area.

[Revised: 04-14-2014]