Watch out for jury duty scam, Manatee sheriff warns

Manatee County Sheriff's Office tweeted Tuesday morning warning of a jury duty scam that has been reported in the area. The scam may involve threats of fines and even jail time.

The U.S. Marshals also warned of the nationwide scam, saying that citizens in South Florida are among those who are being targeted. 

Victims reportedly receive phone calls or emails threatening that they have missed federal jury service and if they don’t comply with the caller's requests, they could be fined or face jail time. 

In the calls or emails, the bogus caller may demand that you provide your personal or confidential information which could lead to identity theft or fraud.

The Miami U.S. Marshals Office said that they are "already aware of numerous individuals in the South Florida area who have been targeted by these jury scammers."

"In one case," the U.S. Marshals said, "the fraudster posed as a U.S. Marshal and stated a federal judge had issued an order to arrest the recipient of the phone call stating they had missed their date for jury duty. Luckily, the victim realized it was a scam and did not provide any personal information to the bogus caller."

Anyone contacting you to demand a fine or threaten jail time is not connected to the Federal Court System or U.S. Marshals in any way. 

Federal courts normally conduct prospective juror business through the U.S. Postal Service, and any contact by real court officials will not include requests for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other personally identifiable information.

Members of the public are never contacted initially by email or phone for jury service. Prospective jurors first receive an official court mailing which may direct them to an online questionnaire. The official jury pool will never receive a phone call or email from the federal courts or the U.S. Marshals Service. 

If you have received a phone call or email from someone claiming to be from the U.S. Marshals and this person demands that you pay a fine, threatens you with jail time or requests your personal information or credit card number, try to get the caller’s number off the caller ID on your phone and write down any details the bogus caller might talk about. This information needs to be reported to the U.S. Marshals or your local law enforcement office.

If you believe you are receiving phone calls about this jury scam, please contact the U.S. Marshals office at (786) 433-6340. If you are a Manatee County resident, contact the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011.