A scam is happening now that targets therapists, social workers, psychologists, and mental health professionals. A highly strategic and organized group of scammers have identified therapists and other medical professionals to inform them that they were subpoenaed, missed their court date, and now have two or more active bench warrants issued by a judge - one for contempt of court and one for failure to appear. They inform you that you are on a recorded line and that two uniformed deputies served you a subpoena and someone signed your name on the subpoena. When you tell them that you didn't, they persist that they will investigate but that they must follow orders by the judge. They cite that they cannot release details about the case since it is privileged information. These scammers inform the individual that both bench warrants are Class C Misdemeanor warrants which will cause law enforcement to take you into custody if you come across any of them.
This scam is a multi-day scam often in which they slowly built the intensity over a series of days. After the first day or two, they tell you that they are going to look closer into it and investigate further. With each day that they call you back, the situation escalates. Eventually they tell you that you now have an order from the judge called a "MAINTAIN CONTACT ORDER" (MCO) in which they will need to maintain contact with you at all times until you get to the sheriff's station to verify your signature. If you violate the MCO by hanging up the phone, they will bypass the civil process and turn it over to a criminal investigation. They urge you that you do not want to go through the criminal proceedings with handcuffs because you may not be able to get the warrants expunged.
They then inform you that you may be subject to the Mobile Monitoring System by the United States (U.S.) Marshall's in which they will obtain a warrant to track your precise GPS location if you do not follow the guidelines of the "maintain contact order."
It gets worse - they then inform you that they are verbally serving a "gag order" and "suppression order" in which you are not to discuss the details of this case with anyone since you now have privileged information pertaining to the case. They may make comments such as, "the judge was very upset since a minor had to take the stand and will now need to take the stand again since you failed to appear." They urge you to get to the Sheriff's Department as soon as possible to complete a signature verification so they may begin the dismissal process.
If you ask about obtaining an attorney, they tell you "If you contact legal counsel, you forfeit your right to undergo the civil process and it must then be taken into the criminal proceedings in which these charges may not fully expunge from your record." In this case, you may also inadvertently "forfeit your right to a fast and speedy trial" since your case will no longer be on the civil track.
If you ask about the legibility of the forged signature and why they didn't check your ID, they'll say "It's chicken scratch" and "we are absolutely going to launch an investigation into these two uniformed officers who served this subpoena and I will make sure that they are investigated by the Internal Affairs Division for reprimand, suspension, or forced to fired."
When you ask to consult with your family members, they remind you that you are under a "suppression order" in which you may be held liable for anything you say... and they further remind you that you are on a recorded line.
They then encourage you to go to the police station with two forms of identification as soon as possible to get the signature analysis and verification. En route to the police station, they request you to stop at a licensed retail store to purchase a "registered enforcement voucher" in which "only government officials can deposit it." They instruct you to bring that to the police station to post your "surety bond." The bond costs approx. $5000 plus a $50 bail fee. They offer a waiver for whatever amount you cannot post. They instruct you to enter the Sheriff's station and approach the "front kiosk linked to the NCID database." They instruct, "do not speak to any uniformed officers in the process because they may take you into custody because of your warrants." You are then instructed to enter a pin code for bond placement.
The more questions you ask, the more they say, "I can tell you haven't been in trouble before. We usually deal with criminals who know all about this. Don't worry. I will walk you through step by step of the process."
At some point here, the money comes in. If you are lucky, you will not get to this point. The trick about this scam is that they continually urge you to go to the police station for signature analysis. At some point en route, the money component is involved to "pull bail" and they instruct you to send gift cards to the "Dept. of Treasury" and have you scratch the numbers off the back and read it to them to "verify validity." Luckily, most of us stop when we hear this. But the continuous urge to go to the police station and comply with the legal orders can be very tricky to deal with.
In my case, my primary investigator was "Lieutenant Alex Stephens" who provided his office phone number (Orange County Sheriff's at 714-647-7000) and direct number (714-760-9055) which turns out to be an Orange County professional escort phone number. The other deputy was Lt. Mason who implemented the "gag order" and "suppression order." Both Lt. Alex Stephens and Lt. Mason called each time from the O.C. Sheriff's Dept. main line; obviously using a program to do this.
Please watch out! These guys are everywhere. They evolve to get more and more complex, even for those who would never suspect a scam.