Jury Duty ID Theft Scam Spreads

A new form of identity theft is targeting one of the nation's most important obligations, jury duty.

The Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen

that scam artists are banking on the seriousness most people attach to jury duty.

Koeppen explains that the scammers figure their targets are good citizens who are willing to give up some key personal information because they're needed in the courtroom.

One target of such a ploy, Bellevue, Colorado grandmother Diana Koenig, tells Koeppen she "was definitely duped, definitely, and it was so slick I didn't know it."

Koenig knew better than to give out personal information over the phone but, several weeks ago, got a call from a woman saying she was with the district court.

"When she told me she was a clerk from the courts, I trusted her," Koenig says.

The caller said Koenig and her husband were up for jury duty, and she needed their birthdates and Social Security numbers to send them a summons.

"I thought about it real quickly and decided, 'She must need this,' so I gave it to her," Koenig says.

But when the summons never came, Koenig called the district clerk and got the shocking truth: That call wasn't from the court, but from a scam artist looking to steal her identity.

"I thought I was gonna have a heart attack right then. I knew I was in trouble," Koenig says.

The jury duty scam has already been reported in 11 states, Koeppen says. Both the FBI and federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their Web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.

"What these scamsters were thinking about," comments Connecticut's U.S. attorney, Kevin O'Connor, "was, 'Let's exploit people's faith in their government.' "