Florida Politics

Scam emails asking for money aren’t from us, Florida Supreme Court warns

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court is warning against a recent email scam that mimics official letterhead and asks recipients for money, noting it never sends out such legal notices over email.

The most recent scam, which mirrors similar attempts over the last several years, usually mentions places in the western Panhandle region. Many pretend to involve a Florida case involving inheritances or are “catfishing” schemes, in which the scammer impersonates an online dater who is interested in meeting and needs money to pay off legal “debts.”

According to the court, prior scam attempts by phone or email have ranged from deportation threats against Spanish speakers to accusing recipients of missing jury duty. Others allege a professional has licensing issues that need to be addressed or say the recipient has to pay a fine for “illegal software use.”

Many of those targeted by the emails also appear to be based outside the United States, making them less familiar with Florida law and more susceptible to the scam, the court added.

“The courts in Florida never send out real legal notices by email,” Communications Director Craig Waters said in a statement. “If you get an email asking for money because of some court document or saying you violated a court order or other legal obligation, you should check further before taking any action.”

The court’s Marshal’s Office and its legal department, according to the court, are investigating any such messages pretending to come from the Florida Supreme Court or using a version of its seal.

Questions about potential scams can be sent, with forwarded copies of the email and its attachments, to the Florida Supreme Court at supremecourt@flcourts.org. More information about complaints regarding online scams, which can be investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, can be found at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/FCCC/Common-Complaints.

Elizabeth Koh is a state government reporter in the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times’ Tallahassee bureau, where she covers health care politics and policy (and the occasional hurricane). A Brown University graduate, she has also covered local politics for the Washington Post and national politics for the Dallas Morning News’ D.C. bureau.