The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday warned of an email scam designed to fleece recipients into believing they’re part of a case involving an inheritance.
It’s the newest incarnation of what court officials say is an epidemic, affecting at least two states— Florida and Georgia — and sometimes targeting attorneys.
This time, Florida officials discovered the scam when a target got in touch to verify whether an email was real, according to court communications director Craig Waters.
“There is no telling how many people never contact us,” Waters said Wednesday. “So the number of scam emails could be quite large.”
In Georgia, the state Supreme Court featured in a similar con involving spoof phone calls from supposed court officials asking for money and threatening arrest.
“DO NOT send any money,” Georgia’s high court warned, urging people to instead contact the clerk’s office at 404-656-3470.
Past frauds in Florida have targeted Spanish speakers with threats of deportation, professionals over licensing issues, and the general public for supposedly missing jury duty, among other tactics, according to the court. One demanded a court “fine” for “illegal software use.”
Some of the scam emails have also claimed to be from potential romantic companions searching for a special someone to pay off legal debts.
Though many of the intended victims are from outside the U.S., Waters advised anyone with a suspicious email to report it to email@example.com.
“The courts in Florida never send out real legal notices by email,” Waters said in a statement. “If you get an email asking for money because of some court document or saying you violated a court order or other legal obligation, you should check further before taking any action.”
The Florida Supreme Court Marshal’s Office is investigating. The state Department of Law Enforcement also investigates online scams and accepts complaints through its website.