ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Judiciary is warning the public about a new telephone scam that uses the threat of arrest for failure to appear in court in order to extort money from potential victims.
The new scam has been reported in Baltimore County and is similar to one conducted in Howard County last year. The scam involves a caller claiming to be an officer in the local sheriff’s office. The caller claims 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 they did not receive a summons for the hearing, the caller claims it was sent to their work address, giving the actual address, and that someone at the office had signed the certified mail receipt. The caller instructs the victim to travel to a public place to have a handwriting analysis performed, or that they could have a sheriff pick them up. The caller instructs the victim to remain 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.
This call is a scam. Anyone receiving such a call should hang up immediately. Anyone receiving a message claiming the above should not respond. The Maryland Judiciary has notified the Offices of the State’s Attorney in Baltimore County about this scams. People affected by this or other scams may also contact the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, 410-528-8662 or toll free 888-743-0023, as well as local law enforcement.
Courts do not call people to notify them about a bench warrant, nor do they instruct them to bring a “bond voucher” with them 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. As a general reminder, do not provide any personal information, credit card or bank information to a caller or in response to an e-mail claiming to be from a court. If you have received a call or email about a court case or a warrant for arrest, contact the District Court or Circuit Court in your jurisdiction. Contact information for each court is available on the Maryland Judiciary website’s courts directory.