Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

August 20, 2013

Fed court officials warn of jury scam

Bill Grimes Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — Federal court officials are warning the public about callers who threaten citizens with prosecution for failing to report for either state or federal jury duty.

The calls are nothing more than an effort to steal personal information that can then be used to commit identity theft, according to a news release from the office of Chief Judge David R. Herndon of the Southern District of Illinois.

"In the calls, the threat of a fine for shirking jury service is used to coerce those called into providing confidential data," according to the release.

"These calls are not from real court officials."

Herndon said federal courts do not require anyone to provide sensitive information in a telephone call. Instead, most access between the federal court system and a prospective juror will be by mail. Any phone contact, he said, would not include requests for sensitive information.

Persons receiving such a call should not provide any sensitive information and immediately notify the Clerk of Court in their respective area. In the Southern District of Illinois, that person is Nancy Rosenstengel at 618-482-9371. In the Central District, the clerk is Ken Wells at 217-492-4107.

Rosenstengel said no reports have been made to Southern District officials, but she said the scam is being tried elsewhere.

"It's certainly a concern, and we just want to get the word out," she said.

Locally, neither Circuit Judge Kimberly Koester nor Circuit Clerk John Niemerg have received any reports of attempted jury scams.

Koester said the county's jury questionnaire does not include requests for sensitive information.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.