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Jury duty e-mails are scams

January 12, 2002

CONCORD – New Hampshire court officials say peers across the United States are reporting that residents elsewhere have become targets of a bogus, e-mail message that orders them to appear for jury duty.

Court officials in Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles say residents are getting the same messages sent to New Hampshire citizens in recent days which could be the work of latest experiment in “gotcha” television that debuts this weekend.

State Supreme Court spokesperson Laura Kiernan said the messages appear to have come from producers of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” a new WB network show set to premier Sunday.

“It’s all set up to help Kennedy in his quest to catch unsuspecting ‘marks’ in hilarious and embarrassing moments,” according to the show’s Web site.

Kiernan got a copy of an e-mail Thursday night which appears to be the same as what court clerks in Nashua, Manchester and Concord report residents had been complaining about.

“We feel an obligation to our citizens to alert them to the fact that people are irresponsible enough to do something like this and actually think it’s funny,” said Kiernan.

“We’re not amused.”

Attempts to reach a WB network spokesperson for comment were not successful.

Superior Court Chief Justice Walter Murphy has referred the matter to Attorney General Philip McLaughlin, who has assigned investigator Paul Brodeur to work on it.

The e-mail looks official, as it has the scales of justice and a laurel wreath, along with the likeness of New Hampshire’s state seal. It asks citizens to fill out a questionnaire with personal and financial questions on it.

After several routine questions, the questions get silly. Examples include whether the person would be offended by someone who stole paper clips from their workplace or how would they react seeing a nude photograph of their boss.

Then the reader is told they have been “Xd” out and the sponsor of the hoax is revealed.

Jury summons in this state are sent only by United States mail and not e-mailed.

John Safford, clerk of Superior Court for Hillsborough County-North in Manchester, said one person complained the questionnaire asked for information about income and personal interests.

One doesn’t need a whole lot of personal and financial information to apply for substitute Social Security numbers and obtain fraudulent credit cards, Safford warned.

“Once you get some information, the sky’s the limit,” he said.

Kiernan said Friday court officials have had difficulty getting these files downloaded to them by recipients.

Anyone who receives the e-mail should call the Superior Court in their county, the New Hampshire Superior Court Center at 271-2030 or the New Hampshire Attorney General at 271-3658.

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 224-8804.

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN, Telegraph Staff. Portions © 2002, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire Software © 1998-2002 1up! Software


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