It used to be that when you got a scam phone call from someone supposedly in authority, it was a villain posing as a Guilford County sheriff’s deputy or a local police officer – however, now, the latest scam being publicly exposed by the Sheriff’s Office is one where the perpetrator pretends to be acting on behalf of a particular judge.

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office – the real one, not the scam one – announced this week that, on Tuesday, June 11, a new phone scam has been making the rounds.  It starts off with a caller pretending to be a Guilford County deputy sheriff.  Then, to make the scam call seem authentic, the caller specifically references the name of Guilford County District Court Judge Brian Tomlin.

There is a Guilford County judge by that name who has served on the court since 2019, however, Tomlin distinctly does not want you to go to Walmart to get gift cards to pay off your fine for a missed court date over the phone.

When the new scam became known to him,  Judge Tomlin immediately reported it to the Sheriff’s Office.

Here’s the Sheriff’s Office’s description of the con: “This scam is similar to others the Sheriff’s Office has encountered and reported to the public in the past.  In this instance, the fake caller stated he was calling from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and that the victim of the call had failed to show up for jury duty after being summoned by the Clerk’s Office. The caller falsely claimed that local District Court Judge Brian Tomlin had issued an Order for the victim’s arrest and imposed a $2,000.00 fine upon the victim for missing jury duty.  The fake caller then attempted to extort money from the victim by requesting the victim pay the fine electronically or through gift cards to avoid being arrested.”

So, it’s a variation on an old theme that people should be wise to by now.

Just as Sheriff Danny Rogers has stated in the past, Guilford County deputies never use phone calls to compel payments of court fines through electronic means – such as Bitcoin or gift cards.

If you’re called by someone who claims to be a Guilford County deputy sheriff concerning an Order for Arrest or an Arrest Warrant, there’s an easy way to verify whether or not the call is authentic.  Simply call the Sheriff’s Office Warrant Squad at the very real phone number of 336-641-2727, or call the Staff Duty Office at 336-641-3690.

Alternatively, you can show up in person at the Magistrate’s Office at 201 S. Edgeworth St. in Greensboro and ask if you are wanted for anything.

The Sheriff’s Office is using this new scam as a teaching moment and is providing the public with the following tips to avoid scams:

  • Don’t answer phone calls from numbers you do not recognize.
  • Don’t return one-ring calls from unknown numbers. (Sometimes you will be hit with expensive long-distance charges if you do.)
  • If you do answer and it’s a robo-caller or you believe it to be a scam, just hang up without saying anything.
  • Don’t press any buttons or give out any information.

In addition, keep in mind that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the telephone.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal or financial information.
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the telephone or by email.
  • Demand that you meet someone to make a payment away from the window at the Sheriff’s Office.