Did you just get fined for skipping SC jury duty or is it a scam? Here’s how to tell

Got a suspicious jury duty summons lately?

The United States District Court of South Carolina is warning residents of jury duty fraud and phishing scams.

“Recently we have received reports of individuals receiving documents through the mail demanding payment for failure to appear for jury service,” a warning on the District Court website says. “Any document received through the mail requesting that cash, MoneyPak, Green Dot card or similar be provided to secure a bond for failure to appear for jury service is fraudulent.”

Posing as law enforcement, scammers reach out by phone, email and mail with threats of fines or jail time for failing to comply with jury service, according to the District Court. The target is then coerced into sharing confidential information that the scammer uses for identity theft and fraud.

“These calls are not originating from actual court officials. Federal courts do not request sensitive information in a telephone call,” the website says. “The initial contact between a federal court and a prospective juror will be through the U.S. Mail, and any phone contact by court officials will not include requests for social security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information.”

The District Court website notes that courts never assess fines or penalties for failure to complete jury duty until the person has appeared before a judge.

In other cases, scammers pose as court officials and ask for private information like social security numbers or credit card information on fake jury summons. Contact from a federal court is delivered by mail and does not include requests for sensitive information.

“Our requests to complete a summons questionnaire or qualification questionnaire are initiated by formal written correspondence that provide instructions for the juror and are authenticated over a secure connection,” the website says.

The scams can cost targets thousands of dollars. In Spartanburg County, scammers have stolen an estimated $1.4 million from residents in 2024 alone.

“After the money is sent in these scams, it is highly unlikely that the money could ever be recovered,” the sheriff’s office told WSPCA.

If you’re targeted by a scammer, the District Court says to get in contact with the Clerk of Court’s office of U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina at 803-253-3382 and report the scam to the FBI. Additionally, if you’ve been targeted by mail, you can save the envelope and its contents to file a mail fraud complaint with the United States Postal Inspection Service.