Over the weekend I received a phone call from a colleague of mine asking if I could speak to his client. I’ll call this client Bob. Bob is a local business man, well respected in his industry, and has never been in any criminal trouble. This was probably the first time that Bob had spoken with a criminal attorney.
So why did Bob need to speak with a criminal lawyer over the weekend? Well Bob had received a phone call from “law enforcement” claiming that he had failed to appear for a Federal Grand Jury summons and that there was now a bench warrant for his arrest. Bob claimed that he never received a Federal subpoena and was scared that he was going to be arrested on a Federal warrant.
Being a bit cynical, I was concerned that Bob was full of it and had actually received notice of this supposed subpoena and was now trying to fix his mistake. I called the phone number he was told to follow up with “407-473-0743”. The person on the other line answered the phone “Orange County Warrant Division”. I was told that Bob had an active warrant and there was a purge amount on the bond that he could pay and then report to Court and take care of his business with the Federal Grand Jury.
I relayed this information to Bob and we both spoke with the supposed supervisor of the Orange County Warrant division. The supervisor then asked us to get a prepaid credit card to pay the “purge amount” and that this was a failure to appear for a Federal Grand Jury summons but was a warrant for missing court for a traffic citation.
For anyone reading this blog, NO WARRANTS ARE ISSUED FOR FAILING TO APPEAR FOR A TRAFFIC CITATION. At that point we knew that this was a scam. I’d say it was a fairly good scam. You receive a call over the weekend so there is no way to call the clerk’s office and you are told that if you don’t pay a certain amount of money for failing to appear for court, you will be arrested.
Moral of the story is always verify what is going on. Generally, you will not receive a phone call regarding a warrant, but simply receive a knock on your door. Be careful. Law enforcement agencies do not ask for credit card numbers to post bond and certainly don’t require you to get a prepaid credit card and ask you to stay on the phone with them while you obtain one from a convenience store.
If you ever have any doubts, call a lawyer. We have seen how the system works and are more likely to recognize something out of the ordinary.