FBI officials are reporting that some East Tennesseans continue to receive fraudulent phone calls and emails claiming they failed to appear for federal jury duty or respond to a federal court summons. The scammers tell the victim that he or she can avoid arrest by pressuring them to immediately pay a fine. The scammer may also request payment information or other personal information. Usually, the fraudsters ask the victim purchase a pre-paid card, such as a Green Dot card or gift card, and deliver it to the scammer in person or via text or e-mail.
The scammer may provide information like titles and badge numbers of legitimate law enforcement officers or court officials, names of federal judges, and courtroom addresses in an attempt to make the scam appear credible. Scammers may even “spoof” the phone number so that it appears to be from the court or a government agency when it actually is not.
These phone calls and emails are not from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
“If someone receives such a call or email, they should not provide any personal information, credit card numbers, pre-paid cards, or money,” said FBI Special Agent Jason Pack of the Bureau’s Knoxville Field Office. “Federal courts do not call prospective jurors and ask for money or personal identifying information over the telephone.” Those who are actually summoned for jury duty who do not show up will receive correspondence by U.S. Mail, not telephone or e-mail.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming the victim of this type of phone scam:
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls.
- Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact.
- Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller pressures you, or says things that don’t sound right, hang up!
- If concerns remain about the caller’s claims, verify the information with the appropriate law enforcement agency or court officials.
Anyone receiving a jury duty / failure to appear scam phone call should report it, with a description of the caller and any available caller ID information, to their local or FBI office or online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.