Reported Scams in St. Johns County
The St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller will never request personal information from you via email, telephone or door-to-door. Do not be coerced into divulging your personal or financial information. Please call us immediately at 904-819-3600 if you have any questions or concerns about communications from our office.
The content on this page provides general information; it is not intended to be legal advice and is not a comprehensive list of all possible scams, forms of fraud, or unethical practices. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, please contact the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office at 904-824-8304.
Jury Duty Scams:
Many scammers claim that the individual has missed jury duty and must make immediate payment to avoid penalties. Click here for more information
Real Estate Scams:
A company charging steep fees for a copy of their official recorded deed. Click here for more information
“Can You Hear Me” Scam:
An ongoing phone scam is the “Can you hear me” trick. The scammer aims to get people who answer the call to say the word “yes.” Click here for more information
Traffic Citation Scams:
Scammer claims to be a court clerk working on the potential victim’s case and solicits payment by phone. Click here for more information
Scammer sends text messages claiming to be from the Clerk of Courts. Click here for more information
Reporting a scam:
Anyone encountering a scam should report the incident to the Florida Attorney General's Office. Click here for more information
Tips to protect yourself against scams:
A collection of ways you can protect yourself from scammers. Click here for more information
Protect yourself from property and mortgage fraud for free:
The St. Johns County Clerk of Courts offers a free online notification service to notify you any time an Official Record document is recorded in your name. Click here for more information
Jury Duty Scams
Scammers claim to be representatives of the Clerk’s office or law enforcement.
Scammers claim that the individual has missed jury duty and must make immediate payment to avoid penalties. In some cases, the scammer indicates a warrant has been issued for the resident’s arrest and requests the individual to provide personal information, such as Social Security number and date of birth for verification. Additionally, some scammers seek payment of a bond or fine for failure to appear for jury duty.
Clerk’s office employees will never phone a resident to request payment for failure to appear.
Failure to appear for jury duty requires attendance in court prior to any penalties being imposed, which would be ordered by a judge.
When residents don’t respond to a summons for jury duty, they are contacted through an official letter from the St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court sent through the U.S. Postal Service.
For questions regarding jury duty in St. Johns County, call 904-819-3629.
Real Estate Scams
A recent mailer from a company charges steep fees for a copy of official recorded deeds. The misleading mailer is from County Records Office, LLC, a Tampa-based company not affiliated with the government.
Per the recent letter sent to residents, the company charges $89 to obtain an official copy of a recorded deed. If you have received the letter, note the name of St. Johns County is misspelled (St John), and the disclaimer on the front of the letter that reads, “This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services and not a bill. You are under no obligation to make payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer.”
These types of sketchy solicitations prey on property owners who aren’t aware that they can access many county official record documents, such as recorded deeds and other land documents, directly through their Clerk of Courts and County Comptroller’s Office.
Through the Clerk’s office, a certified copy of a recorded deed comes with a small fee, while non-certified records are generally free of charge and often available on the Clerk’s website.
Certified copies of documents are often needed to prove authenticity — such as wills, divorce decrees, marriage licenses or satisfaction of mortgage documents.
Certified records can be obtained securely 24-hours-a-day through the Clerk’s E-Certify webpage, stjohnsclerk.com/ecertify, for a nominal fee. The fee includes statutorily required per-page fees, a $2 certification fee, $6-per-document vendor fees, and credit card fees. However, by downloading and saving the document, it can be printed and reprinted as many times as desired.
To avoid paying the online vendor and credit card fees, customers can visit the courthouse to obtain certified records and simply pay the per-page cost and a $2 certification fee.
Visit stjohnsclerk.com/online-research/ to access official records, Board of County Commissioner records, court records and more.
“Can You Hear Me” Scam
An ongoing phone scam is the “Can you hear me” trick. The scammer aims to get people who answer the call to say the word “yes.” Once they have a recording on file of your voice saying “yes,” scammers can then use it to authorize unwanted charges on bills, credit cards and more.
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, you should always be skeptical of anyone who tries to get you to respond with a simple "yes." For example, here are a few ways scammers might get you to say it:
- Can you hear me?
- Are you the lady of the house?
- Do you pay the household phone bill?
- Do you pay the household bills?
- Are you the homeowner?
You should be skeptical of any yes or no question that has no context provided by the caller.
Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple “yes” answer. The safest thing to do is to just hang up.
Traffic Citation Scams
In this fraudulent traffic payment scam, the scammer claims to be a court clerk working on the potential victim’s case and solicits payment by phone or by e-mail.
In a recent real-life example, the scammer was sophisticated enough to locate a person who did in fact owe money for a traffic citation and to obtain an image of the citation, possibly from public records.
It is unclear how the potential victim’s email address was obtained since those are not made public by the Clerk’s office.
Some hints that an email is not authentic:
Here in St. Johns County, we will not contact you by email, text or phone to elicit payment.
- The phone number given for the victim to call to make payments contained the wrong area code.
- The email had numerous typographical, punctuation and capitalization errors.
A recent scam involves text messages claiming to be from the Clerk of Courts..
In one example, the text reads, “MSG on behalf of the St. Johns County Clerk of Courts; Reply YES for balance. Tap msbpay.com/qp?=(number) for more info; To OptOut reply STOP.”
The text suggests that the recipient has failed to pay a fine or fee to the Clerk’s office, and the unpaid balance has been forwarded to a debt collection agency.
Please do not respond to the text, and do not click on the link.
If you have an unpaid fine or fee that has been forwarded to a debt collection agency, please call the Clerk’s Office first at 904-819-3600 to verify the agency that is handling your case. You may also visit our website at stjohnsclerk.com/courts/traffic-parking/collections/ for information and authentic telephone numbers for collection agencies with whom we do business.
Reporting a scam attempt
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issues Consumer Alerts to inform the media and the public of emerging scams, new methods used to commit fraud, trends in consumer complaints, or any other deceptive practices utilized to take advantage of Floridians.
Anyone encountering a scam should report the incident to the Florida Attorney General's Office by calling 1(866)9NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint online.
To stay abreast of scams affecting Floridians or to report a scam, visit Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website by clicking here.
Tips to protect yourself against scams:
- Don’t click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
- Use Caller ID to screen calls and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can call back.
- If someone calls and asks “Can you hear me?” do not answer “yes.” Just hang up.
- Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges. It’s also a good practice to check your telephone and cell phone bills. Scammers may be using the “yes” recording of your voice to authorize charges on your phone. This is called “cramming” and it’s illegal.
- Don’t be pressured into making fast decisions.
- Take time to research the organization.
- Never provide your personal information (address, date of birth, banking information, ID numbers) to people you do not know.
- Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
- Never send money for an emergency situation unless you can verify the emergency.
Scammers often claim to be utility representatives and threaten to disconnect your service, seeking personal and financial information. If you are unsure about a call or email that claims to be from your bank, utility company, etc., call the business directly.
See FPL’s fact sheet here.
The St. Johns County Utility Department can be reached at 904-209-2700 or visit the utility online here.