(Source: By Nicole Harbour, Herald and Review, Decatur, Ill. (MCT) – DECATUR — A jury duty scam appears to be circulating throughout Macon County, and the Macon County Circuit Court is warning county residents to be on the lookout for suspicious emails or text messages that appear to be from the circuit court system or the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
Macon County Jury Manager Jeannie Burger said she received phone calls last week and Monday from residents who became concerned when they got emails and text messages that stated they had missed jury duty and were subject to arrest unless they paid a fine.
“I got three calls last week and one call today,” Burger said Monday afternoon, noting that the emails and text messages the residents received said they had missed jury service and could avoid arrest by providing their credit card number or bank account information and paying a $500 fine online. “This is a scam. We (the Macon County Circuit Court) don’t conduct business through text messages or emails.”
“Everything we do is through letters and occasionally, if we need to track down a potential juror, by phone,” said Macon County Presiding Judge A.G. Webber. “And we never ask for your bank account information or credit card number.”
Burger said there are several steps that have to occur before someone could even be eligible for jury duty, let alone miss their jury duty week.
“The first thing that happens is a resident receives a questionnaire from us in the mail,” she said. “They can then fill out the questionnaire online or just send the completed questionnaire back to us, and they can note any concerns or health issues on it.”
From there, a computer decides whether or not a resident is qualified to serve.
“If a resident is qualified, they will then, within one year, receive a jury summons that has a definite jury duty date on it,” said Burger. “A resident has to get all of those things before their name would just appear out of nowhere that they had missed their jury duty week.”
Webber said this scam is one he’s familiar with.
“This is an old scam,” he said. “It’s been around here before, and it’s one that disappears and then turns up in another area.”
Macon County Sheriff Tom Schneider advised residents to not respond to the emails or text messages.
“There are so many scams out there, and you just don’t want to respond or give out any personal information,” he said. He added that anyone who believes they’ve been scammed or has questions or concerns can call his office at 424-1311.
Anyone with questions about jury service should contact Burger at 425-2554.
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