Arrest Warrant/Court scams have been around for many years and still claim victims: An email or phone call or text informs someone that they are in trouble with the law. “A federal court has issued an arrest warrant in your name! An officer will be at your door soon to take you away.” Or it may be a hefty fine for some missed jury duty. In any case, if you pay the caller or emailer now, then the charges will go supposedly go away and they will call off the arrest.

If you get this kind of call/email, please know that US courts and officers will never contact you urgently for immediate payment. No one is actually coming to arrest you. The charges are made up and do not exist. Disconnect from any call resembling this scheme. Delete/mark as spam any email you receive about this. Contact your local police station if you have any doubts.

Hallmarks of this Scam:

  • The caller pressures you to pay now, before the officer gets to your house to cuff you and stuff you. High pressure tactics are common with scammers. The US Court System is slow as molasses, and would never do this to you.
  • The scammer asks for payment using Google Play cards or Walmart gift cards. No government entity wants these things! Anyone demanding a store card like this is always a scammer.
  • “You are welcome to satisfy your court debt using Zelle or Cash App!” Again, these payment methods are not used with the government. These quick-pay methods are for use with friends and family only.
  • The person trying to convince you to pay insists you may stay on the line with them. They won’t let you off the phone. They don’t want you to call anyone else. They warn you not to tell the salesperson why you are buying gift cards. They do this to keep you under their spell. They know that as soon as you talk with someone else, the scam will fall apart.
  • The supposed charges are for outlandish things you know you haven’t committed, like Illegal Drugs in New Mexico or Vehicular Manslaughter in NYC.

Also please consider:

  • Arrest Warrant and Court Scams may employ call spoofing, and your CallerID may show something convincing, like IRS, US Federal Courts or Attorney General’s Office. Please do not believe your CallerID!
  • Scammers often have your full name, address, phone number and other sensitive info. They’ve acquired it from public info websites or from data breaches. They may “confirm” that info with you as an intimidation tactic.
  • If you are emailed any convincing-looking “court summons” documents or citations, feel free to bounce them off of your local police or court officials. Do not call any numbers from the documents or email. Find their contact info through other means, or just stop by the local police station.
  • Real court summons and citations will arrive via the USPS, and look boringly official and officially boring.
  • Feel free to Google any phone number you see in such a suspicious email. Googling a scammers number will either turn up nothing, or many results showing that others have been scammed by that number.