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Beware of fake jury duty scams seeking money, info

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Empty jury box
An empty jury box at the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Scammers are targeting Minnesotans with fake summons for jury duty and demanding money or personal information.

Court officials are cautioning people to be vigilant about such scams, which have included phone calls and emails in multiple counties around the state.

The scammers have threatened people with fines, prosecution or prison for failing to report to jury duty in state or federal courts, said Andrew Pieper, deputy administrator for the Fourth Judicial District, which covers Hennepin County.

"They're being called and saying you missed your jury summons, you missed your jury service, you have a fine that you need to pay and take care of, otherwise there's going to be a warrant out for your arrest," Pieper said.

The scams have been reported in multiple counties around the state.

Pieper said the scammers prey upon people's sense of civic duty when it comes to jury service. 

"So when they get this call, it can be very disturbing, feeling like you've done something wrong with the district court or even the federal court," he said.

Pieper said a real juror summons will always be an official form sent through U.S. mail. Minnesota courts never contact a person by phone or email and seek payment of fines or confidential information.

State court officials hope to get the word out about the scams so people don't fall victim and so the response rate to jury duty summons isn't affected, Pieper said.

Anyone who receives a suspicious call or email should contact the county sheriff's office, he said.

About 180,000 people are summoned for jury duty every year in Minnesota. More information on jury duty can be found here.

Jury duty scams
A poster from the Minnesota Judicial Branch warns against providing personal information over the phone for failure to appear for jury duty.
Courtesy of Minnesota Judicial Branch