Last week a Wichita man received a phone call notifying him that he had an arrest warrant for “Failure to Appear” in Chief Judge Eric F. Melgren’s courtroom. The man was on his way to the bank to withdraw thousands of dollars when he decided to call the federal court to find out if the call was legitimate. U.S. District Court jury staff in Wichita verified that it was indeed a scam, as court officials would never ask for cash, credit card information, or even social security numbers. Fortunately, this person did not become a victim of the scam, unlike other Kansans who have lost thousands of dollars.
Earlier this year, a Derby resident received a phone call from a scammer that said she failed to appear in court and threatened her with jail-time unless she purchased $1,500 in gift cards. The scammer told her to mail the gift cards to an actual court employee listed on the court’s website. Before mailing the gift cards, the scammer asked for the numbers on the back of the cards. By the time federal court staff received the cards, the scammers had already spent the money.
Chief Judge Eric F. Melgren wants citizens to be aware of such scams and to contact the federal court immediately if a scam is suspected. “The federal court is experiencing an uptick of calls from Kansas citizens who have been contacted by scammers. We recently mailed over 60,000 postcards to potential jurors, and scammers are using this to their advantage. Most contact between federal court and a prospective juror will be through the U.S. mail or our online jury portal called “eJUROR.” Any phone contact by real court officials will not include requests for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information. Furthermore, court staff would never request someone to purchase gift cards to pay off a fine.”