A new internet phishing scam has emerged in which people in Orange County are getting email falsely claiming to be from the the Florida courts system and telling them they are being summoned to court, warned Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell on Friday.

She said that that court communications are never emailed – they come by public mail – and people should be highly suspicious of any email they get claiming to be from courts. She cautioned people to be suspicious of or ignore any emails that appear to come from the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority or any other agency claiming to represent the courts.

Courts, the Clerk of Courts Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defenders Office, and judges don’t email people to instruct them to come to court. Internet scammers apparently do though.

Russell’s office has contacted by several people in Orange County who said they received the email, and at least a couple more have shown up at the Orange County Courthouse, thinking they were supposed to be there. She alerted state authorities, who indicated they have not yet heard similar reports from other counties.

The phishing scammers interest is to get people to click on attachments and links when the receive the email, which can give the scammers access to peoples’ computers.

“Maintaining the integrity of the court process is always the top priority for the Clerk’s Office,”  Russell stated in a release. “We want members of the community to be more aware of how the court system operates so they can better protect themselves from unfortunate scams like these.”

The email in question are fake notices, designed to look like official communications from the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, which is used by attorneys for filing briefs electronically, but which does not send out email to the public.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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