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A Nigerian Prince, the IRS and Jury Duty: What They Have in Common

While most people would not consider grouping a Nigerian prince, the IRS and Jury Duty together, they do belong in a group when considering scams affecting Mid-South residents and people nationwide.  These scams are meant to intimidate and trick you into giving up your money or personal information.

Scam 1: the Nigerian Prince

As noted by the Better Business Bureau, the “Nigerian letter scam” typically involves an email sent from a “prince or royal family member” wanting to transfer large sums of money. To do this, he or she needs your bank account information.

In exchange for your personal information or financial “contribution” to pay taxes, you get conned. As reported by The NY Daily News, INTERPOL recently announced that a “Nigerian prince” has been arrested for masterminding a $60 million email scam. Money magazine recently reported on a Nigerian online scam of $43 million discovered in an apartment in Nigeria by their economic crimes division.  It was discovered in an abandoned apartment and believed to be the result of one of the many online scams being run from Nigeria.

If you receive an email of this type, please ignore it and do not contact the sender in any way. According to the Better Business Bureau,

If you have already responded to such a plea, or if you know someone who is corresponding in this scheme, contact the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible (phone: 202-406-5572 or e-mail 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov).”

Scam 2: the IRS

The IRS scam works differently in that it is typically done over the phone in a hostile and intimidating manner. A fictional IRS agent will tell you that you owe back taxes that must be paid immediately or you could face a subsequent arrest and prison sentence. These scammers will also ask for your personal information, including your Social Security number and date of birth.

Please know that the IRS will never call you without first mailing out a notice. Secondly, they will never demand immediate payment while threatening legal action. If you do receive one of these alleged IRS phone calls, hang up immediately.

As noted on the IRS information site, if you do receive a phone call or are still suspicious you may do one, or all, of the following:

  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov.
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Scam 3: Jury Duty

Gaining year round traction is the Jury Duty telephone scam. Speaking from personal experience, I can assure that a jury duty scam is targeting residents of Shelby County.

I received a message one afternoon on my home phone stating that I needed to contact a Deputy Marshall with the Federal Court System about an important legal matter. Not knowing whether this call was work related, I dialed the number and was told that I had an outstanding warrant for missing Federal Jury Duty a few months back. Immediately knowing this was some type of scam, I remained on the phone just to see how the process would play out and how far these con artists would go with their plan.

If you return their call, you are told that your arrest is imminent if you do not cooperate with them and that you are to immediately report to the Federal Courthouse to clear the matter up. You are then told that before reporting to the courthouse, you will have to provide a bond (so that you will not have to remain in jail). This bond can only be achieved by transferring money from your local bank or convenience store. They were even nice enough to tell me where the nearest store was to my house that could assist me in purchasing a $1,200 “voucher” that would then be sent to them before I went to the courthouse to “turn myself in.”

They also tell you that if you do not immediately comply with their orders, they will have a Federal Marshall en route to your home to arrest you. As a lawyer, I knew that this was a scam and could not believe the outlandish and false statements they were making in trying to scare me into complying with their demands.  

Unfortunately, there are many good people that have lost money due this growing scam.  In December 2015 WMC-TV in Memphis ran a story outlining this particular scam and the mental and monetary effects it can have on unsuspecting people.

If you happen to receive one of these calls, like most of these scams, immediately hang up. If you had really missed Jury Duty, you would be contacted via mail by the courts, not a phone call threatening your arrest and requesting money. If you receive a notice in the mail, it is best to show it to your attorney before calling any number listed on the summons. These individuals have also been known to contact the elderly through mass mailings in addition to phone calls.

If you have any questions regarding these scams or other questionable actions, feel free to contact The Chiozza Law Firm at 901-526-9494 for advice and a free consultation.  If you have a medical malpractice claim, suffered a personal injury, were arrested in Memphis, or were merely given a speeding ticket in Shelby County, we are always here to help.  

We are confident that if you contact us to discuss your potential claim, you will like what we have to say.  You will be treated with the utmost attention and respect, just like a family member.

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Posted by Brian Chiozza at 7:29 AM

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