While the Broward County jury duty scam reported in April is still going strong, some residents are now being targeted by a potentially new type of scam, reported Howard Forman, Broward County Clerk of the Court on Tuesday.
In this particular scam, alleged victims are receiving a fake notice or summons to appear for a pretrial conference in Small Claims Court at a courthouse in Deerfield Beach.
According to the official “Summons/Notice to Appear for Pretrial Conference,” potential victims are being warned that they “are required to appear in person or by attorney at the Broward County Courthouse” in Deerfield Beach or be subject to a “default judgment.”
In a hand-written warning on the summons, potential victims are advised they can avoid a court appearance and “you can mail payment use free envelope or call with your credit card 212-8761517.” Further instructions state “send what you can every week, 2 wks or month to avoid court.”
The purported fake summons is signed with an illegible signature that does not match any sitting judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.
A Google search of the telephone number provided on the summons indicated that it belonged to “Bobell Company,” a privately held New York Furniture store. When questioned Tuesday afternoon, company executive Mark Sacker indicated that he had clients in Florida that owed them money.
“We have some customers in Florida that haven’t paid us,” Sacker told Examiner. “I don’t know anything about the forms you’re talking about, though.”
Publically available records through the Broward County Clerk of Court indicate not a single legal matter in which the Bobell Company is a litigant seeking damages or money from any party.
Local officials are not sure how many Broward residents have been targeted or may have called the 212 number attempting to make a payment.
“Two of the fake summons we have reviewed asked for a couple hundred dollars each,” Howard Forman, Broward County Clerk of Court told Examiner. “From what we can tell right now, this is a scam targeting local residents.”
Given this set of circumstances and fact pattern, it appears that Broward County residents are being victimized by a new and potentially disturbing scam through use of the court system.
Broward residents who have received a “Summons/Notice to Appear for Pretrial Conference” that appear fraudulent or fake or on a matter seeking an immediate payment in lieu of appearing in court are urged to contact Court Administration at 954-831-5848.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and ID theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.