The Maryland Judiciary is warning the public about a new telephone scam that uses the threat of arrest for failure to appear in court as a way to extort money from potential victims.
The scam was reported in Baltimore County and is similar to one that was conducted in Howard County last year. The scam involves a caller claiming to be an officer in the local sheriff’s office and that a judge has issued a bench warrant in the victim’s name for failure to attend a hearing that morning. When the victim tells the caller that they did not receive a summons for the hearing, the caller claims it was sent to their work address. They caller gives the actual address and says that someone at the office had signed the certified mail receipt. Then, the caller instructs the victim to either travel to a public place to have a handwriting analysis performed or to call and have a sheriff pick them up. The caller tells the victim to wait on the line for further instructions while driving to the location and further instructs the victim to obtain a “bond voucher” for hundreds of dollars.
Please note that this call is a scam, so anyone that receives such a call should hang up immediately and those that have received a message claiming the above should not respond. The Offices of the State’s Attorney in Baltimore County has been notified about these scams, so people who’ve been affected by this or other scams may contact the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division at (410) 528-8662 or toll free at (888) 743-0023, as well as your local law enforcement.
Just for reference, courts do not call people to notify them about a bench warrant, nor do they instruct them to bring a “bond voucher” to the court. Further, courts do not call or email people to obtain payments or personal information. Courts do not request credit card or PayPal payments by email or telephone and, as a general reminder, do not provide any personal information, credit card or bank information to a caller or in response to an email claiming to be from a court. However, if you have received a call or email about a court case or warrant for an arrest, contact the District Court or Circuit Court in your jurisdiction. You can find the numbers to those places on the Maryland Judiciary website’s courts directory.