Rhode Island Courts do NOT send notifications to appear via email
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning Rhode Islanders of the latest scam to hit the area where people receive an email informing them that they are ordered to appear in court.
The fraudulent email with the subject line "Notice of Appearance in Court" is purportedly sent from a "court clerk" with a fictitious name instructing recipients to appear for "illegal software usage."
Courts in Rhode Island do not send notifications to appear via email.
The emails may also include the domain name of a legitimate law firm and contain an attachment, purportedly a copy of the court notice, which may link to a computer virus. The emails request the recipient bring an "identity document" on the specified court date. The law firms mentioned in the emails confirm the emails did not originate from them.
The Office of Attorney General was notified by the Rhode Island Courts that this scam was making its way across the country with residents in several states being targeted. The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit has fielded several calls from consumers in Rhode Island reporting they had received the phony email.
"Scam artists will go to great lengths to get what they want, including scaring individuals into thinking they have broken the law," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "The public should ignore and the delete these emails. These emails are not official court notifications. If you have a question about a legal proceeding or would like to confirm that you are not required to appear in court, contact the clerk's office for that specific court." Contact information for all courts is available at www.courts.ri.gov.
To report scams, please contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit at 401-274-4400.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. For more information, please visit www.riag.ri.gov or call 401-274-4400.