Increasing jury duty scams have led the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to once again warn Hoosiers of potentially falling prey to an illegitimate summons.
The Southern District has recently received more phone calls from victims regarding jury duty scams, the court said in a press release Thursday. In such scams, callers pose as U.S. Marshals or other government officials and claim that the victim is about to be arrested for not appearing for jury duty, but can avoid arrest by paying an immediate fine.
“The people conducting this scam can be very convincing,” Chief Judge Magnus‐Stinson reiterated from a November 2017 statement. “They call their law‐abiding victims and terrify them with threats of arrest and jail unless they pay up immediately. The U.S. Courts do not operate this way. In no instance will a court official, U.S. Marshal, or other government employee contact someone and demand payment or personal information by phone or email.”
Scammers often include the names of federal judges or court employees, the location of the courthouse, court phone numbers, and case and badge numbers during the phone call. More recently, the release stated, scammers have also included the victim’s work address, home address, and date of birth. Callers then tell the victim they can avoid arrest by paying an immediate fine, and subsequently walk them through purchasing a prepaid debit or gift card or making an electronic payment to satisfy the “fine.”
Southern District Court Chief Deputy Clerk Alison Chestovich noted that such scams should not be taken at face value, regardless of the personal information that may be included in the call or letter.
Residents of the Southern District of Indiana who believe they have been the victim of such a scam are encouraged to report the incident to the District Court Clerk’s Office, 317‐229‐3700; the Federal Trade Commission; and the U. S. Marshals Service, 317‐226‐6566.
The Southern District notes:
• A court will never ask for a credit/debit card number, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers over the phone for any purpose.
• A prospective juror who disregards a summons will be contacted by the District Court Clerk’s Office by mail and may, in certain circumstances, be ordered to appear before a judge.
• A fine will never be imposed until after an individual has appeared in court and been given the opportunity to explain a failure to appear.
• You should not divulge personal information or financial information to unknown callers.
• You can remain anonymous when you report scams to the District Court Clerk’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, or Federal Trade Commission.
• You can authenticate a call by contacting the Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis at (317) 229‐3700 to verify that you were not summoned for jury duty and that the call did not come from the court.