General Crime

U.S. Marshals Asking for Help Cracking Jury Duty Scam

The U.S. Marshals Service is warning the public and asking for help in identifying people trying to take money from unsuspecting Bay Area residents in a jury duty scam, a deputy marshal said today. Suspects are posing as deputy U.S. marshals when calling residents and telling them they have missed jury duty and can avoid arrest by paying a fine immediately.

The scammers typically ask for a couple hundred dollars, Deputy U.S. Marshal Joseph Palmer said. The scammers may give a resident the title, badge number of a marshal or court official, name of a judge and courtroom address to seem legitimate.

They also leave voicemail messages and set up fake voicemail inboxes. Palmer said the scammers also may represent themselves as police officers who are working on a U.S. Marshals Service task force. Palmer is asking residents to call the Marshals Service with the phone number the scammers used, tell marshals what the scammers asked for and what they sounded like. “We’re really relying on the public for help on this,” he said.

The scam started occurring in Northern California recently but it’s been going on throughout the country for the past 18 months. Palmer said marshals believe more than one person is involved. Investigators are looking into how the scammers are getting the badge numbers of marshals because the numbers are not public. “That’s something we’re investigating now,” he said, noting that there’s no indication that a marshal is involved in the scam. “If you get a call, don’t send money,” Palmer said. Court employees do not call prospective jurors to ask for money or personal information.

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