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Jury Duty Fraud Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Some fraud schemes refuse to die. Jury duty scams existed long before phishing, malware, and other cybercrime methods became synonymous with identity theft. Yet just this month, the U.S. Marshals Service issued a fraud advisory about this old-school con that is enjoying a resurgence.

Common methods

Here is how jury duty scams work: Perpetrators posing as court officers, U.S. Marshals, and other members of law enforcement call unsuspecting victims, warning them that they are about to be arrested because they have not reported for jury duty. When the targets assert they have not been notified that they have been selected, the scammers ask for information to ‘verify their records.’

The information the scammers want, of course, is a victim’s Social Security number and date of birth. Some go a step further and request bank account information, claiming they need an account routing number and other details to facilitate the direct deposit of jury checks.

Alternatively, scammers tell victims they can pay a fine in lieu of arrest. They request payment via a prepaid debit or gift card and ask the victim to read the card number over the phone. In some cases, crooks ask victims to deposit cash into a bitcoin ATM. Both methods ensure that the funds are unrecoverable once they are transferred.

Know the facts

The truth is, courts virtually never call prospective jurors — even those who do not report as scheduled. Most courts rely on the U.S. postal system for follow-ups and they never ask for confidential personal information.

Unfortunately, many people are caught off guard by this scam. Disconcerted to learn that they may be arrested for evading jury duty, even those who ordinarily would be cautious about providing personal information over the phone may give the callers what they want.

Remember that the spiel does not matter. What is important is that bogus jury duty calls are the same as any other telephone scam. You should never give confidential information or transfer funds to unverified callers; even when threatened with arrest.

Report & verify

If you think you have been scammed by a con artist posing as a court or other official, report it to your local FBI office or the Federal Trade Commission. And if you are unsure about whether you really do need to report for jury duty, contact your local courthouse.

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