FBI: That Jury Duty Call Is a Scam


The FBI says scammers are trying to trick people into thinking they missed jury duty. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/DOUGLAS MUTH
  • Photo courtesy of Flickr/Douglas Muth
  • The FBI says scammers are trying to trick people into thinking they missed jury duty.

In a particularly sadistic scam, a con artist is trying to trick people in the St. Louis metro into thinking they missed a jury duty assignment.

Don't worry. You don't have jury duty, and you didn't miss the notice in the mail.

The FBI says the hoaxer calls and pretends to be a law enforcement officer or court official who is none too pleased the target of the charade has failed to report for their civic duty. The dupes are instructed to hand over personal info, such as birth dates or social security numbers for "verification purposes."

Once the mark takes the bait, the caller asks for a bank account number to pay a fine — presumably to settle the imaginary infraction.

"Do not provide your personal information," Gregory Linhares, clerk of court for U.S. District Court in St. Louis, warns in a statement. "Federal courts do not require anyone to provide sensitive information in a telephone call or email."

The FBI says the scammer is counting on victims to panic.

"All scams contain an element of urgency to get the victim to act immediately," says William Woods, special agent in charge for the FBI's St. Louis Division. "Usually, you are being threatened or being told about an unexpected windfall. Then the perpetrator will try to get your personal information or your money."

Jury duty hoaxes isn't new. In 2013, pranksters freaked out a bunch of people in St. Louis County with bogus warnings about missed summonses. The fakers in that case apparently didn't want money — just laughs.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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