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Don't fall for this jury duty scam

Get a call about missing jury duty? Don't fall for it -- and certainly don't pay out! It's a scam that is making the rounds, experts warn.

By Mitch Lipka Aug 19, 2013 6:16PM
Image: Phone (© Corbis)If you get a call that claims you missed a jury duty assignment, watch out if the caller asks you to pay a fine. It's a scam that's running hot right now -- prompting a spate of warnings.

Officials scattered from Massachusetts to South Carolina and Alabama to California and Utah have put out the word about residents getting shaken down to clear their records. Often the calls come from out of state, but because caller ID can be faked, they can also appear to be coming from the local courthouse or a law enforcement agency.

The most likely people to fall for this sort of scam are older folks who think they are doing the right thing and want to avoid getting a bad mark on their record, said Eduard Goodman, chief privacy officer of the personal security firm IDT911. Plus, he said, the calls can be quite convincing -- right down to including background noise that makes it seem like the call is coming from a police station.

The set-up can be so sophisticated, Goodman said, that it could involve one call that pretends to be from the court system -- which is recorded to allow the scammers to pick up on clues that can be used on a follow-up call that pretends to be from the police.

In addition, scammers can collect information by other means to make it seem as though they know more about you, lending some additional credibility.

"We suspect that this scam relies heavily on social media to piece together information about the victims, particularly who their friends and relatives are," Goodman said. "In some reports we’re hearing about scammers contacting the victim’s girlfriend, spouse, friend or roommate to put pressure on the victim or as an alternate source of scam money."

These scams provide plenty of red flags, but you have to be aware of them since the calls themselves can be quite convincing.

Goodman said the first thing to be aware of is that the police aren't going to call you to let you know they have a warrant for your arrest.

"What (the police) would do is send you something by mail that is part of an automated, built-out process," he said. "Because we’re dealing with the courts, everything will have to have a paper trail. They won’t do this blindly with a call. If they wanted to contact you for missing jury duty, you would be asked to appear before the court to explain why you failed to show -- if they did anything at all."

The next flag -- this is the one where you need to stop the scam in its tracks -- is when they ask you to pay a fine or penalty. They will most likely request payment via a wire service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram or through a prepaid cash card. Pay by those means and it's like handing away cash.  


For those who believe they might have gotten a legitimate call from local authorities, Goodman suggests independently calling back the agency and inquiring yourself about the issue. Don't get the number from the callers.

More from MSN Money:

Aug 19, 2013 8:40PM
None of these scammers could afford any type of fine.  For the ones we catch, public execution.  Kill a few and make sure it is highly publicized, the rest will stop.
Aug 20, 2013 4:47AM
telemarketing and all of spin offs should be illegal it is an invasion of our privacy
Aug 19, 2013 11:18PM

This is like the guy calling me from windows It services and says I have a virus in my computer

says his name is mike smith  AKA  lying india guy.  

Aug 19, 2013 7:49PM
if they want to put an end to these scams, it's simple, if you are able to catch them, it is a mandatory $100,000,000 fine minimum
Aug 20, 2013 11:20AM
How about, "Can I meet you somewhere with the cash?"  And a baseball bat!
Aug 20, 2013 9:24AM
Why do we spend untold billions every year fighting terrorists but our government can't seem to follow a money trail. Here's the plan ! the NSA keeps a record of all phone calls so they should be able to trace where the calls come from all they have to do is follow one transaction to the point the money reaches the scammers. How hard can it be with all the Agents and Funds these Agencies get you'd think they could spare a few hundred Agents to focus on scammers. The way I see it is these scammers aren't going to stop, they'll change their scams and methods and the only way they'll stop is if they're arrested. Why can't our government treat these scammers just like terrorists since scammers steal hundreds of billions every year from Banks and Governments and ordinary Citizens. And since it's a world wide problem it should be easy to get the International Community to work together.
Aug 20, 2013 12:09AM
The court sends you a letter through the mail to report for jury duty.   You have so many days to get out of it.    Nobody calls you.    You must always reply provide some legitimate excuse why you cannot do jury duty.    Never listen to anyone on the phone about anything.   they say something fine send it to me in writing.  
Aug 20, 2013 10:50AM
scammers should be shot on the spot. same carjackers and all the other low life people.  
Aug 20, 2013 10:47AM
Do like me and don't answer your phone unless you recognize the caller.  I have a notification on my answering machine that I won't pick up unless I recognize the caller ID and that the caller should leave a message if it's important.  The only messages I usually get are from automated callbots.  I've also gotten to where I pick up the phone and immediately hang up if I see the caller ID from someone that repeatedly calls and doesn't leave a message.  They can't scam you if they can't talk to you.
Aug 20, 2013 1:11PM
Aug 20, 2013 2:07AM

I would be highly suspicious if I got one of these calls...I'm not a registered voter in SC so I shouldn't be getting any jury summons.

It's kind of like all these emails I keep getting saying I Won!!! It's hard, if not impossible, to WIN, if I never entered.

Aug 20, 2013 12:59PM
Why would anyone post personal information on a public forum, like facebook. 
Aug 20, 2013 2:24PM
I got a call from a guy who said I needed to pay 30% of my income to an organization to protect me from criminals , guarantee my rights of free speech and privacy and guaranty security in my old age..  The guy was from the IRS and it was the biggest scam of all time.
Aug 20, 2013 11:48AM
If the NSA can snoop on our calls then why can't we, the consumer, know who it is calling us.  We law abiding citizens have no power when the law is violated other than report them to the government agencies who really don;t do a damn thing.  I want the ability to go after someone when they call me.  i wan;t the ability to call the phone company immediately when I receive a solicitation call or prank call, find out who it was, find out their name, address and phone number.  It is time we start making some noise in Washington and in our state capitals.  The information is there but those who have it refuse to provide it.
Aug 20, 2013 12:24PM
I use to get those emails about 10 million dollars some one left me some where. One time I replied and signed the email with my name and Dept. of Homeland Security, Internet Fraud Dept. Told them to please send me more information and I was looking to meeting them in person real soon.  I never got another email from that group ever again.
Aug 20, 2013 9:46AM

If you didn't get a jury duty notice by mail, you don't have jury duty and won't miss jury duty. Many jurisdictions also have a phone system to tell you if you're supposed to show up or not.

Aug 20, 2013 12:33PM
its pitiful that the ones scammed are the weakest of us, the older people who only want to do good....I say when they catch the scammers, flay them alive and then lay them out in the sun, staked out for a few days, that should do the job....
Aug 20, 2013 12:55PM

Just like the people that call and ask the model number and brand for whatever appliance (the last was my refrigerator) saying it is time to renew my warranty.  I told them that if that were true, they would already know, wouldn't they?  They hung up on me.

Aug 20, 2013 12:12PM

How anyone can fall for this is beyond me. If you have been called for jury duty (I've been called 4 times in two different states), you receive a summons in the mail. It'll either be from the county where you live, or the federal court system if you're being called for federal jury duty. It tells you when you are to report. If you never received a summons you weren't called, period.


There's a very simple solution to this and all the other telephone scams. Get an answering machine and caller-ID. Never answer a call from a number you don't recognize. If the ID says private number or unknown caller, wait to see if they leave a message. If it's a scam artist, they won't bother, they'll more often than not just move on to the next number on their list.

Aug 20, 2013 12:22PM
let NSA use all the computer moniter of call etc use it for the publics benefit
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