File Photo – Zoom | Photo: Lyus Sugiharto/Unsplash

The sheriff’s office and the judicial circuit court are warning about a new financial and personal information scam targeting virtual court attendees in Lake County.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the targets are 19th Judicial Circuit Court participants who are present virtually on Zoom for court.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said scammers are sending messages to court attendees through the chat feature claiming to be an attorney, a court contractor or even a court employee.

When pretending to be an attorney, the scammer will offer to represent the court attendee.

The scammer will then have the victim pay the “attorney” using an online method of payment.

Attorneys are prohibited from soliciting business in a courtroom, including virtual courtrooms. “This is a scam,” Covelli said.

When the scammers claim to be a court contractor or court employee, the scammer will ask the court attendee for personal information.

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The requested information could include birth dates, phone numbers, addresses and social security numbers.

Scammers will then inform the attendee they are to submit payment to the court and advise the victim to use online methods of payment.

“Virtual court attendees should be aware, they will never be asked to pay fines, fees, or share personal information via Zoom,” Covelli said.

Any court attendee who receives messages in the Zoom chat that seem suspicious should alert the court immediately.

The scams are becoming more prevalent across the region, not just in Lake County, Covelli added.