AZ Judicial Branch warns of new phone scam

By Rithwik Kalale
Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2023 - 5:25pm

The Judicial Branch of Arizona is warning people of a new type of scam on the rise, where someone poses as a worker from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and requests payment over the phone for a fake civil bench warrant, usually over Zelle.

“If ever in doubt, my suggestion would just to be to reach out to the court. Call them directly and just say ‘Hey look you know I got this phone call I want to know if this is correct,’ and go through that process," said Luke Emerson, civil department administrator. "But the courts will never reach out to you to quash a bench warrant with a private payment.”

Emerson said these scams seem to be targeting random individuals. The courts encourage people who think they may have been affected by one of these scams, to write down the phone number of the caller and notify their local law enforcement agency.

Generally, the court may issue a civil arrest warrant "if a person fails to appear at court after receiving actual notice of the need to appear or after a person is personally served with a subpoena to appear, including a warning that failure to do so may result in the issuance of a warrant," according to the press release.