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If a resident of Northern Illinois opens an email purporting to be from U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and is asked to pay to receive a class action settlement, it’s a scam, according to Clerk of Court Thomas G. Bruton. Also, if a Boone County resident receives an email that has an attachment that appears to be signed by a judge, but asks for the resident’s financial information, that’s a scam, too.
It doesn’t matter if the email appears to bear the federal court system’s official seal, Bruton said, because “it’s not the true seal. It’s someone fictitiously making it up.” But recipients may not realize it’s phony, he said.
Bruton said he recently learned of these scam emails after “someone contacted us to ask us if this was valid. This could be more widespread than we’re aware of.”
Bruton said he doesn’t know when this scam originated or how many people may have received such emails. The emails might appear to contain a court order, a guarantee of claims release, bill of costs or state that the person is entitled to a class action settlement.
Anyone who thinks he or she may have received a suspicious email, even if it is from a bank or the federal court system, should “certainly telephone the institution or visit them in person” to inquire if the email is legitimate or might be a scam, Croon said.
Anyone who wishes to verify the authenticity of such an email is asked to call their local FBI office or Bruton’s office, Bruton said. To verify documents, residents also may email those messages to email@example.com or log onto Public Access to Court Electronic Records, also known as PACER. That web address is pacer.login.uscourts.gov.