The clerk for South Florida federal courts is warning about a jury scam that has popped up in several states.
People called for jury duty elsewhere have reported being contacted by phone by people pretending to be federal agents demanding payment of a $400 fine for missing jury duty, said Steve Larimore, Clerk of Court for the Southern District of Florida.
“Our court never makes requests for payment of fines from jurors over the telephone,” Larimore said in a release. “Jurors who miss jury duty may be requested to provide an explanation or directed to appear at court, but they will not be solicited for payment of fines over the telephone.”
People who miss jury duty can be held in contempt of court, but the sanction can be imposed only by a judge after an opportunity to explain the failure to appear, Larimore said.
Jury scams are occurring with increasing frequency across the country, sometimes targeting people who weren’t even called for jury duty.
The phone scam has been reported in New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. In New York, targets have been sent a fictitious arrest warrant and offered a chance to avoid arrest through payment, Larimore said.
Federal courts never ask prospective jurors to provide sensitive information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers, over the telephone, he said. It’s a crime to pretend to be a federal court employee.