Bay Ridge

Officials warn of jury duty scam

February 29, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, pictured with New York Stat Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long (left) and Brooklyn Conservative Chairman Gerard Kassar, says the jury duty scam doesn’t appear to have hit Brooklyn yet. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Crooks demand payment for skipping court

Elected officials are warning Brooklyn residents to be wary of a scam involving jury duty.

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) is one of the lawmakers spreading the word about the jury duty scam, which she said has become prevalent across the U.S. in recent months.

Scammers disguised as law enforcement officers or court officials are calling residents and informing them that they have failed to show up in court for their jury duty obligation and that they will be arrested unless they immediately pay a fine.

The victims are instructed to pay either by credit card or pre-paid debit cards.

According to the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection, jury duty phone scams have been circulating in many of neighboring states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

NJ.com reported in January that the con artists have been demanding payments ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

In addition to requiring an immediate payment, the scammers also insist on receiving personal information, such as the victim’s Social Security number and date of birth.

That’s dangerous, according to officials, who said the crooks can use the information to steal the victim’s identity.

The scammers have also been known to target immigrants who may not be as familiar with the court system or seniors who are less likely to report the fraud, according to officials.

Malliotakis said that while there is no evidence that the scam has hit Brooklyn, she is urging residents in her Assembly District to be aware of the con game.

Coincidentally, Malliotakis issued the alert on Monday, while she was serving jury duty on Staten Island.

In New York state, jury duty notices are always sent in writing through U.S. Mail from the local county clerk.

And residents are never asked by the county clerk’s office to provide their personal information on the phone.

Residents who have missed a jury duty reporting date should contact their local county clerk’s office, Malliotakis said.

“We need to make our family, friends and neighbors aware of this scam and all scams so they are not taken advantage of. It is disturbing that con artists are using a serious civic responsibility in the jury duty summons process to threaten and victimize residents across the country, and we must stay vigilant in the event that the fake calls come to our community next,” Malliotakis said in a statement.

The jury duty scam is nothing new, according to the FBI’s website.

Back in 2006, the agency issued a warning about con artists calling up innocent victims and making them feel guilty over missing jury duty when the victims never received a jury duty notice in the first place.

“It seems like a very simple scam,” the agent was quoted as saying on the FBI website. The trick is putting people on the defensive, then reeling them back in with the promise of a clean slate, the agent said.