August 13, 2014
he Virginia court system is warning the public about a scam in which emails claiming to be from a state or federal court cause viruses to be downloaded to computers.
The Virginia Supreme Court’s executive secretary’s office, which helps run the state’s court system, recently posted the “public advisory” in red letters at the top of the state court system’s website.
The email looks official “and falsely claims to be about an upcoming court case,” the advisory said. The email often includes such words as “Notice to Appear in Court” or “Court Notice” in its subject line or in the body.
The email typically provides contact information for a court, “lending a sense of legitimacy to the scam,” the advisory said. Then, the email instructs the recipient to review the “attached notice” or click on a link in the email.
“When the recipient opens the attachment or clicks on the link, a computer virus infects the recipient’s computer,” the notice says. “Please be advised that such email is not from a court, nor is it about a court case, but a scam designed to infect the recipient’s computer with a virus.”
Virginia’s courts don’t conduct business with the public by way of unsolicited email messages, the notice said.
If you get an unsolicited email purporting to be from a Virginia court, don’t open any attachments, click on any links or click on any buttons telling you to “unsubscribe.” You should delete the email.
If you’re not sure about an email’s legitimacy, phone numbers for state courts can be found on Virginia’s Judicial System website, at courts.state.va.us.
Virginia isn’t alone in getting targeted by such scams. Earlier this year, New York State’s court system warned the public about a nearly identical scam in which recipients are told to come to court at a specific date and time, and bring certain documents with them.
Those emails also “warn that the court may proceed” in the recipient’s absence, “and that they will be sanctioned if they do not appear,” that advisory said. A virus is downloaded to the computer when the user downloads an attachment.
The FBI has long warned about “jury duty scams,” in which you’re called and told that you failed to report for jury duty and that there’s a warrant out for your arrest. When you say you never got such a notice, the caller says the matter can be “cleared up” if you provide some verifying information.
“In the calls, the threat of a fine for shirking jury service is used to coerce those called into providing confidential data, potentially leading to identity theft and fraud,” a federal court advisory says.
Courts do virtually all business with the public by regular U.S. mail and don’t require people to turn over sensitive information in phone calls, the federal advisory says. “Any phone contact by real court officials will not include requests for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information.”
If you have a question about federal jury duty, call the U.S. District Court in Norfolk at 757-222-7200.
The East End Neighborhood Association of the Peninsula will host the Asset Based Community Development Mini Session Monday.
The session will focus on building community leaders in order to transform communities, according to a news release. Several topics will be discussed, including how to tap into the potential of neighborhoods. The presenter will be Jim Moynihan.
“This is a powerful and inclusive approach to community development where you will hear how to focus your efforts on discovering & mobilizing the resources that are already present in our community,” according to the release.
The event will be held at 6-8 p.m. in the fellowship hall of First Church of Newport News. The church is located at 2300 Wickham Ave.
For more information, contact Artistine Lang at 692-9386.