Monday, June 2, 2008

Con Men at their Best: The Jury Selection Scam

--Phone Calls, Threats of Fines, Imprisonment are featured as part of the Jury Selection Scam by Con Men

The voice coming at you over your phone--that completely unexpected phone call--is terse, officious.

"My name is Justin Lawless, calling from Superior Court, county of (blah, blah), state of (blah, blah)." You are succinctly informed. No ands, ifs, or doubts.
"You have been selected for jury duty, and it is requested that you report to office number (yada, yada) on June 30, 2008, at 8 AM."

Next comes the big identity theft thrust--the demand that you reveal your social security number, bank account and credit card numbers, for purposes of , ah hem, identity "verification."

Why me? you are thinking to yourself. You quickly spiel out your objections: Your husband's back has gone out and you must now pull that oar, lift that bale around the house. Your son has an impacted wisdom tooth, and his constant misery begs constant attention. The transmission fell out of your car and you have no transportation.

Failing to convince Mr. (con man) Lawless, you dejectedly succumb and comply with his entreaty for detailed personal information. Better than paying the big fine he has threatened you with, right?

Wrong

Often it's those who hesitate who are probably right.

But, you bit. If at first you don't succeed, redefine success, you might come to think. Ah, if only it could be so simple when dealing with con men.

You are now into the quicksand pull of identity theft--yours--to be tried on, fitted, and worn to whatever extreme con man, Justin Lawless (or whatever his name), wishes to take it. Maybe you should have reacted the same way as heeding the warning on a Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping. Live and learn?

The judicial system does not contact people by phone asking for personal data, not even date of birth. If you have--foolishly--surrendered this information to the con man, contact your local FBI field office immediately (phone number can be found in the front of your local phone directory.) And, for further "boning up" on what this kind of con men scam is all about, try:

www.uscourts.gov

If you've been burned you cannot afford to think indecision is the key to flexibility. Too late. Restoring and rebuilding your identity after theft is like digging your way out of prison with a spoon. Thus, you must short-cut all the trauma--by quickly forcing sensible, logical thought upon yourself, and trundle off to seek help.

Yesterday.

16 comments:

Gene Kranik said...

This is more common than you would think. I have known a few people who have been hit with this one.

Jack Payne said...

You are correct, Gene. This has been around for a lot of years, but recently has kicked up a bit.

Helen H said...

My friend Doris got a phone call like this. The man must have said something wrong because she got suspicious and reported him to the police. I don't know what happened after that.

Jack Payne said...

That's the way it works, Helen. The con man knows that he's only going to succeed with, maybe, 2or 3 out of every 100potential victims he calls. He never expects to clean the identity from more than 5% of those he calls. But, that's all he needs. Just a few.

Warren M said...

I can see how this can be an effective kind of fishing for personal information. The intimidation factor has to be huge, with the threats for non-compliance, and all.

Bern said...

You are right, Warren. It's hard to see how anything could be a more implied threat than the sanctions of failure to report for jury duty. Every citizen is absolutely stuck with this, and we all know it.

Jack Payne said...

Warren and Bern, I couldn't have said it better. The intimidation factor is so threatening--and, seemingly coming directly from a court--that the fear level has to be extreme among the unwary recipients of these phone calls. Fines? Imprisonment? Who would not quake in their boots a bit over such thoughts?

Terry said...

From what I hear, Jack, about the only thing worse that this is a threat about grand jury duty.

Dee said...

What's funny about these con men is they start their spiel once you answer the phone so anyone anyone who answers turns out to be the person they are looking for. Wow you are such a lucky guy!!

I answered the phone at my office (a law firm) and was told I had won 2.5 million dollars. Just so. They didn't ask my name, address phone no. date of birth.......BUT after the ridiculous spiel I was told to call another no.

I won't let you in on my response. This is a G rated blog.

Jack Payne said...

Ironic, Terry, but I've got a piece on Grand Jury rip-offs coming up in the next few weeks, Terry.

Over $2,000,000, huh, Dee? Seems they are pretty careless with their money when they don't even bother to get your name before volunteering to give it to you. Oh, well, maybe this one was a practicing apprentice con artist.

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

I am glad that you put this out there because sometimes in the heat of the moment I panic and just might give out my information. I hope I would be smarter but panic and adrenaline and 2 kids and 2 dogs barking can do funny things to your common sense. Another super blog from one of my favorites!

Ted H said...

It's the take-charge nature of these people that's scary. My wife got such a call a few years ago when I was out of town on a business trip. She didn't get sucked in, but she was shaken for weeks after.

Jack Payne said...

Distraction can be a killer, Heidi. Fifteen years ago, my mother, got suckered when something going on in her living room kept her attention only partly on what was being said over the phone. Result? She ended up writing a check for $5,000, had it picked up by Federal Express, and, poof--forever gone.

Jack Payne said...

You're right, Ted. The intimidation factor on these scams is usually huge--and can leave many people, not used to such verbal manhandling, nervous wrecks.

Barry said...

It is hard for a lot of people to be "on the guard" all the time. Some of us grew up in more trusting times.

I got a call from my Credit Card company, they wanted to upgrade or something, then, the guy asks me a "security question" - I told him - if you really are my credit card company, you wouldn't be asking me if you call me, and you should know, so if you want to upgrade me - go ahaead, you don't need any security information to do that.

The guy was pissed, but you would think the credit card people of anyone should know better.

Nice post by the way - people tend to "relax" when they thinkl they know who the person is they are talikng to.

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