Court Subpoena Phishing Scams

A friend and client of mine received an email from someone purporting to be a court clerk stating that he had a court appearance two days from today and the information needed was attached in a zip file. It referenced a case number, but there was no indication of what court the case was filed in.

He of course like any good citizen was concerned about his need to be in court for some reason and immediately contacted me. I confirmed it is a phishing scam and there is no reason for him to open it.

There was no such court with any such case number. There was no reference to an actual case.

Any requirement to appear in court requires a subpoena from an attorney, or order by a judge, or by someone who has followed the proper procedure to require another person to appear, produce documents, and/or testify. It must also properly be served. As far as I know, there is no court in the United States that permits initial service or service of a subpoena by email. In some cases where a person or business is regularly represented by an attorney it is common for on attorney to contact the other and request that the attorney accept service on behalf of the client, thereby avoiding some of the formal requirements of proper notice and service. That for the conveniences may happen through email, but it is agreed upon by the attorneys. This is rare and the attorney will most likely contact the client before accepting such service.

If someone sends you an email notifying that you have a court appearance, check with your attorney before opening any attachment. It most likely is a phishing scam and you’ll end up needing to clear your computer of malware and/or viruses.