The state’s senior jurist on Wednesday warned citizens of scammers issuing phony threats of punishment for failing to comply with jury service in federal or state courts.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said the predators demand money or private information for identity theft purposes.
“Counties and district courts are hearing, once again, that scammers are preying on Minnesotans with fake jury duty summons and calls,” Gildea said in a statement. “Jury duty is an important civic honor. I laud the dedication of citizens who report for jury service, and urge Minnesotans to learn about and protect themselves from the potentially devastating consequences of these scams.”
While these scams take various forms, Gildea said a recent plot has scammers placing phone calls or sending e-mails threatening citizens with fines, prosecution, or imprisonment for failure to not submitting to jury duty. The impostors’ payoff is luring citizens’ money or crucial vital identity information.
Minnesotans are initially summoned for state jury duty solely through the U.S. mail in a notice from a district court. There is never any demand from the state for money, a Social Security number, credit card information or other sensitive information in response to missed jury duty.
Anyone receiving a suspicious call or e-mail connected to jury duty is urged to contact the sheriff’s office in that jurisdiction.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch has posted information about jury duty scams a at www.mncourts.gov/jury.
A round of jury duty scams in early 2014 spread around the country, including in Dakota County, where someone was calling residents posing as a Dakota County sheriff’s deputy and asking them to send him money.
The caller was often using the name Lt. John Martin and telling residents they have failed to serve jury duty and a that warrant will be issued for their arrest unless they pay a fee — usually several hundred dollars in the form of a prepaid card, according to the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office.
Apparently the scam is nationwide. A “Lt. John Martin” was making the same calls in Tennessee, Texas, California and Florida, according to authorities in those states.