Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Jury Scam
Just when you thought you've seen and heard it all, con men have come up with a new way to scam your identity. This time, they're calling South Floridians about missing jury duty. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has more in tonight's Carmel On The Case.
WSVN--Notices for jury duty come in the mail - maybe as often as once a year.
And while not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of giving up their time - ignoring a notice could result in contempt of court.
Now telephone con men are using that fact to fish for personal information.
The fraudsters tell people there is a warrant for their arrest because they didn't show up for jury duty.
And that's when the caller sets the hook by asking for some personal information - like a social security number - so he can clear up the warrant.
In many cases, the FBI says the scammers are getting get enough information to steal identities.
Tim Delaney: "They can do whatever they want. They'll open loans - they'll buy cars - they'll take out mortgages - ah credit cards that you never see and they'll be in your name."
Miami's assistant special agent in charge - Tim Delaney - says this kind of come on is called social engineering.
Tim Delaney: "The criminal will prey upon a person's willingness to do good and their desire to be a good citizen and they'll use that against them."
Sharon Sydnor got a similar call at her Key Largo home. The person on the other end started off by asking about her social security number.
Sharon Sydnor: "So right away I was suspicious and I said who's calling? This is the state of Virginia and we have a bench warrant for you arrest. So I thought that was laughable because I've never been in Virginia so why would they have a bench warrant for me - so I said - no you don't."
The caller hung up once it was clear she wasn't buying his bogus claim.
But make the mistake of giving out your personal information and you could end up financing a buying spree for a scammer.
Tim Delaney: "Most people don't have any need to know your social security number, your date of birth in order to conduct business with you unless you initiate the phone call."
And if you do ever receive a phone call asking for personal information, always hang up.
When it comes specifically to jury duty, the courts will notify a missed assignment by mail.
Sharon Sydnor: "I've never been to Virginia - they can't have a warrant for my arrest. Now since this call I've thought - identity theft? Maybe."
Carmel Cafiero: "It doesn't matter why they're calling - today it's jury duty and arrest warrants - tomorrow it will be something else. The bottom line is to remember - personal information - needs to be just that personal - never to be shared with a stranger."
If You Have A Story For Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE