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'Court Case' Email Scam: Don't Click on Attachments

A nationwide court email scam could leave a nasty virus on your computer if you're not too careful.

Several federal and state courts are warning the public about an email scam that tells recipients that they have an upcoming court hearing, missed a jury summons, or have a warrant out for their arrest. The fraudulent emails will either contain an attachment that contains a virus, or the email will tell the reader to pay money to avoid arrest.

So what can recipients do to spot a scam email?

What Do the Fake Emails Look Like?

The court email scam is targeting people all across the United States, so everyone should be on high alert. The scam emails will appear to be addressed from either a court clerk or a law firm (i.e., from someone @jonesday.com or @hoganlovells.com).

While the emails appear to be coming from real courthouses and legitimate law firms, the fraudsters have apparently hijacked the email addresses.

The body of the email will likely be similar to this:

Notice to Appear,

Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of [court name] on [some date] at [some time].

Please bring all documents and witnesses relating to this case with you to court on your hearing date.

The copy of the court notice is attached to this letter. Please read it thoroughly.

Note: If you do not attend the hearing, the judge may hear the case in your absence and [some type of threat of action (jail, fines, etc.)].

Yours truly,

Clerk of the Court

What Should You Do If You Receive a Scam Email?

If you think you received one of these scam email messages, delete it immediately. Some of the emails will allege that you're scheduled to appear in court and give you a phony case number; if you're concerned, you can call the court or check the court's online case database to see if you've actually been summoned, as the District of Columbia Courts suggest. Typically, you can look up a case using your last name.

If you've made the mistake of opening the email, try not to download any attachments. By downloading the attachments, you could potentially subject yourself to a computer virus or give the fraudsters access to your personal information.

To prevent further court email scams, you can also report the fraudulent email to the court and to law enforcement.

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