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New 'warrant scam' making the rounds in the Valley

The Judicial Branch of Arizona said scammers are accusing Valley residents of failing to appear in court and demanding payment. Here's what you need to know.

PHOENIX — A new scam is making the rounds in the Valley. If someone calls you to claim that you owe bond money and need to pay over Zelle, it's most likely a scam, the Maricopa County Superior Court said in a release from the Arizona Judicial Branch.

They've been informed that scammers are posing as officers from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and threatening people with jail time if they don't pay a "requested bond amount." 

The scammer will then demand payment over the phone via Zelle, and promise to quash the "civil bench warrant."

A civil bench warrant is an authorization for police to arrest someone who fails to appear for a previously ordered court hearing. It can sound intimidating, but don't be fooled; the Court does not use Zelle, or seek payment over the phone to quash such a warrant, authorities said.

They explained that the Court, generally, will issue a civil arrest warrant only after a person has received actual notice or an order to appear in court -- or been served with a subpoena -- and given warning that failure to appear may result in a warrant.

One caller was reportedly asked to pay $1,450 for "failing to appear as an expert witness."

What to do?

If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be with MCSO, the Court said you can take some of the following steps:

  • Write down the phone number of the caller and notify your local law enforcement agency.
  • Do not give the caller any personal information or agree to provide any payment.
  • Look for the red flags: The Court does not demand money over the phone, and scammers will "do all they can to insist you stay on the phone with them."
  • When in doubt, verify your status by contacting the Maricopa County Superior Court. If you think you may have a warrant, visit https://superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/criminal/warrant-information/

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