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Phone and Email Scams Affecting the Legal Community

Warning: Fraudulent Phone Calls/Emails Regarding Contempt Orders and False Claims Re the PPP Loan Program Surface in the District of New Mexico 

February 23, 2024 - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico has recently been notified of individuals both in New Mexico and outside of New Mexico being targeted with a new phone and email scam. The targets are contacted by phone by an individual claiming to be a member of court staff or an investigator looking into false claims regarding a COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loan. The scammer informs the target that they failed to appear for a court hearing. The name given by the scammer may be an actual employee or member of the law enforcement/legal community, which helps the scammer legitimize their threats. The scammer then attempts to confirm an email address with the target, and once confirmed the scammer sends the target a variety of documents purportedly signed by a judge, including an Order of Arrest and an Investigation Notice. The judge’s name may be an actual federal judge. The scammer may eventually ask for personal identifiers or for immediate payment of fines, but this information is not always made during the initial contact. While court and jury related scam calls and emails have been occurring for several years in New Mexico, this is the first report the District of New Mexico has received in which documents purportedly signed by a judge are sent to the target.

The U.S. District Court will never ask for sensitive information in an unsolicited phone call or email and will not assess a fine or penalty for failure to appear in federal court without first having the person appear before a judge.

It is a crime for anyone to falsely represent himself of herself as a federal court official and such an offense is taken very seriously by the federal judiciary. Persons receiving such a telephone call should not provide the requested information or pay any fines and should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) at (505) 889-1300, select option #1 when prompted, to report the incident. In the District of New Mexico, the individual may also contact the United States District Court at 505-348-2000 to verify that there are no matters pending before the court in their name.

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Read full press release here.