Neighbor and retired district judge Tom Martin asked me if I would bring to the public's attention three recent scams that were reported on a listserv for Pennsylvania Magisterial District Judges.
1. A Reedsville district judge reported that a couple came to his courtroom, the wife in tears. A man had contacted them, saying that their 19-year-old son had been "sexting" with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl. The man, claiming to be the girl's father, threatened to report the youth to Pennsylvania authorities unless the parents sent him $10,000. A few days later a man who said he was the "North Carolina sheriff" called the Pennsylvania parents, stating that unless they paid up, he'd come and arrest the son.
"Obviously after they told me that, I knew it was a scheme, but one that had these parents an emotional wreck," wrote the judge. "Just wanted to let all of you Judges know how extreme these scheme artists will go."
2. A State College judge said in one day two older couples came into his court and reported receiving a phone call from a person claiming to be Lt. Frank Rodgers of the Sheriff's Department. "For the couple in the afternoon the caller told them that there was a warrant issued for the wife's arrest because she failed to show up for jury duty. She was given the specific address of the court and told to report to the court to settle the matter. They were to speak to Nancy Brown, at the court."
The judge found that no Frank Rodgers or Nancy Brown was employed by the sheriff or the county, nor was there any record of the wife's supposed oversight in the computer system.
"While this sounds like a bad prank, I don't like it and am concerned that someone could be setting up the older couple(s) and/or the court for something," the judge said.
3. A Columbia judge said his in-laws received a call from someone who claimed to be with a police department in Florida stating that their grandson (the judge's son) had been arrested for drunk driving and they needed to send $2,000 to pay his fine. The grandparents paid up. "They called me after the fact. The sad part is my father in law is a retired Federal Judge. He should have know better -- plus my son is in the Coast Guard and was deployed at the time."