Thieves posing as Maryland law enforcement officers are swindling Maryland residents by threatening them with arrest for missing jury duty or failing to appear as witnesses, Maryland’s Attorney General has recently warned.
Consumers in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County and Howard County have reported receiving a call from someone claiming to be from the local police department or sheriff’s office to inform them that they have missed a court date. In some instances, the scammer leaves a message and asks for a return phone call. Caller ID will indicate that the call is from a local phone number. If the victim calls back, they reach a recording that leads the victim to believe that a legitimate Baltimore or Maryland law enforcement office has been reached. If the victim talks to a person, then that person tells them they missed jury duty, that a certified letter was signed by someone at their home and that a bench warrant for their arrest has been issued for failure to attend jury duty and contempt of court.
Sometimes, the scammer tells the victim that they need to meet in person to resolve the issue. Once the victim arrives, the scammer asks for payment by gift card, prepaid cash card or wire transfer to immediately resolve the issue.
The Maryland Attorney General says that in other cases, scammers have called and told victims that, because there is a fine for missing the court appearance, the victim cannot go to the local law enforcement department or they will be arrested. The scammer then tells the victim that cash and checks are not accepted, that the fine can only be paid by wiring funds. Scammers have also told victims that, if the fine is paid within a certain timeframe, only a portion of the fine has to be paid.
Once the victim agrees to pay the fine, the scammer provides instruction on how to pay and stays on the phone until the payment is complete. According to one complaint received by Maryland’s Consumer Protection Division, the scammer told the victim to use a MoneyPak card to pay the fine.
The scammer may also tell the victim that there is a “gag order” on their case so they cannot talk about it. The scammer may also ask the victim to scan and email a copy of the victim’s driver’s license.
Maryland authorities say that under no circumstances should money be paid, whether through MoneyPak or any other quick money transfer, to any person or group that claims to be Maryland law enforcement even if they threaten you with arrest or a fine.
If you receive one of these calls, authorities recommend that you hang up immediately. Do not return the call and do not send your driver’s license information to anyone who contacts you claiming to be a law enforcement officer, Maryland authorities advise.
If you have received a call like this and have paid the caller, authorities recommend that you contact the company that made the funds transfer to see if the payment can be stopped.
Please note that the police do not call ahead to tell you about your upcoming arrest. If they have a warrant, they try to catch you by surprise. In addition, it’s unheard of for someone to get arrested for missing jury duty. Also, anyone who asks for money via FedEx or UPS but not by U.S. mail is pulling a scam as it is a federal crime to use the U.S. mail to swindle someone.
If you are facing arrest, you need to talk to a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling criminal cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free