Cook County Public Defender’s office warns of scam after someone listened in on Zoom court proceedings

Zoom has change into the way in which of the world in the COVID-19 pandemic, nevertheless it has additionally opened the door to a brand new scam at a time when individuals are already susceptible.

Court proceedings have all the time been open to the general public, with a couple of exceptions. But when the pandemic hit, everybody, together with the courts, needed to pivot. That meant turning to Zoom for hearings, however WGN News has realized someone is taking benefit of the state of affairs and exploiting individuals.

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli stated final week her office realized someone was listening in on the Zoom court calls. They wrote down phone numbers after which would attain out to the defendants, pretending to be with the general public defender’s office.

“That is fraud, please do not fall for that, that is a scam,” Campanelli stated. “A public defender will never call you and ask for money, for any reason. So if someone is doing that, they are not a public defender.”

Access to the court hearings is straightforward to search out. The Zoom dial-in numbers and passwords are listed on the Cook County courts homepage. A spokesperson for the office of the chief decide stated the cellphone numbers of the contributors becoming a member of Zoom are masked, however observers say generally phone numbers of defendants are learn aloud in court.

Sarah Staudt, with the Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts, says the difficulty of individuals’s personal data being disclosed accidently on Zoom court calls is one thing they’ve been conscious of for awhile.

“In order to facilitate communication between lawyers and people who are appearing in court for example, there needs to be an exchange of phone numbers and if judges aren’t careful about how they asked those questions that number gets broadcast out into the world along with the person’s name and the fact that they have a criminal charge and all this other stuff that makes them susceptible obviously to a scam like this,” she stated.

If you have got been a sufferer of this scam, contact your native police division.

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