Federal judge warns against jury duty scams

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(NewsNation) — Judges across the country are warning Americans about jury duty scams where the caller demands that they pay up or be arrested for skipping out on jury duty.

A federal judge in Florida is trying to protect U.S. residents from falling for these scams.

Chief Judge Timothy Corrigan for the Middle District of Florida told NewsNation affiliate WFLA that scammers will attempt to call or email people pretending to be a deputy or court official. The scammers will threaten people that if they don’t show up for jury duty, they must pay money or get arrested.

In the form of prepaid debit cards, money orders or even gift cards, these scammers will ask for thousands of dollars and sometimes personal information in an attempt to steal identities.

People often fall for the scam out of fear. In fact, a court in Sacramento, California, said it actually received money cards in the mail last week because of a similar scam, KCRA reported.

The United States Courts issued a public warning for residents on its website, saying that these calls or emails can lead to identity theft and fraud.

“Federal courts do not require anyone to provide any sensitive information in a telephone call or email. 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 website warned.

Corrigan warns Americans that the court will never call individuals about jury duty.

“I have been a judge for over 25 years,” Corrigan told WFLA. “I’ve never once issued a bench warrant for a person for not showing up for jury duty. It just doesn’t happen that way.”

The Federal Trade Commission reported that close to half a million imposter scams were reported in 2020, and close to one in five people reported losing money — a total loss of more than $1 billion.

While the warning is clear, it doesn’t mean people can skip out on jury duty. It’s important to provide the court with an explanation of why you cannot participate.

NewsNation affiliate WFLA contributed to this report.

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