Scams are common, and with advancing technology, it is getting easier for victims to be fooled by real-looking documents and scare tactics. One of the latest scams uses court logos and information available from public records to scam victims out of their money.

In the example below, the scammer contacted an individual by email, using an actual court official’s name and address and telling the victim that an “appearance bond” had to be paid by prepaid debit card. No case number or court date or other explanation was included on the bogus document. The document included the information for different courts on one document, which members of the public might not realize.

The document states a specific form of payment as if the victim has a requirement and no alternatives. In addition to the document, the scammer’s email directed the victim to email pictures of the front and back of the cards before mailing them to the “court.” The pictures of the prepaid cards gave the scammer everything needed to use the funds immediately, allowing the now worthless cards to be mailed to an actual court address, giving false credibility to the scam.

Impersonating a court official or other public servant is a crime, in addition to the fraud of the scam. Individuals who are targeted by these scams can report them to law enforcement.

Unfortunately for the victims who purchase prepaid cards in response to these scams, it is nearly impossible to stop payment or recover the funds before used by the scammers.

If you receive a notice or message from a court in Arizona, there are several ways to confirm the information. Many courts can be contacted by telephone, email, or in person. A list of court information is online at https://www.azcourts.gov/AZ-Courts/AZ-Courts-Locator. Many courts’ dockets, or the list of documents filed into the case, are posted online at https://apps.supremecourt.az.gov/publicaccess/ or through the eAccess records system at https://www.azcourts.gov/eaccess/.

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