EDINBURG – Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra and District Clerk Laura Hinojosa are warning the public about a scam which intends to steal the identity of Hidalgo County residents. Criminals, posing as court officials or “clerks of the court” are emailing victims to notify them regarding their failure to appear for jury duty. In recent cases, victims are directed to a website where they are asked to verify or provide additional personal information.
Victims are further instructed to reply within three days, after which they may be contacted and “required to appear before a judge.” Hinojosa says the County does not email residents regarding their failure to appear for jury service, much less request residents’ personal identifiers.
“Residents should be extremely cautious when receiving any emails regarding jury service, specifically from user ‘firstname.lastname@example.org,’” said Hinojosa. “Office procedures require either rescheduling a juror or sending a failure to appear notice by mail only. We encourage potential jurors to contact our office first if ever in doubt regarding any type of jury notice.”
Some county residents previously experienced a similar jury scam in 2014 where supposed court officials were calling victims to collect fines for failing to appear for jury service by using prepaid debit cards. It was confirmed at that time that this too was not county practice and that only through normal court proceedings could a judge order a potential juror either be arrested or pay a fine for failing to comply with the law.
“The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office encourages residents to be extremely vigilant if they receive an email similar in nature. Any residents who may have already fallen victim to the scam and responded to the email should report the incident immediately with their local police department or city law enforcement,” said Guerra.
County residents are asked to be cautious and to help stop this type of criminal activity by reporting similar incidents. To avoid becoming a victim of these scams remember:
You may receive a failure to appear notice by mail only and never via email. You will never receive an email from the county requesting you verify or provide personal information. You are welcome to contact the district clerk office at 956-318-2200, ext. 6277, to verify any jury notifications you may have received.