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Scammers Pose As The Washington State Supreme Court Clerk To Demand Money

Christal Fields lost her childcare license after the Department of Early Learning found out she had a criminal record. Now she's suing in the Washington state Supreme Court to appeal the decision.
Rachel La Corte
AP Photo
The Washington state Supreme Court in Olympia

Scammers have found a way to use fake caller ID information to pose as the Washington State Supreme Court Clerk and call people up to threaten arrest and demand money.

That’s why if you call the general information number for the state Supreme Court Clerk’s office in Olympia, the first thing you’ll hear is a warning in English and Spanish.

“Recently, people have reported receiving calls from this phone number that have threatened arrest and asked for money,” the recording says. “These are not legitimate. They’re fraudulent and a scam.”

Shannon Smith, consumer protection division chief in the attorney general’s office, said the scammers appear to be targeting people with Hispanic names.

“They’re trying to prey on folks who they think might not be as familiar with our legal process as other folks and trying to take advantage of that lack of familiarity to convince them that they’re in some sort of legal trouble and demand money from them,” Smith said.

The scheme appears to be similar to IRS phone scams in which criminals say that the person on the other end of the call owes back taxes and has to pay, Smith said.

“We’re letting folks know that the Washington State Supreme Court or the Supreme Court Clerk’s office will not call people and demand money or threaten that they’ll be arrested,” she said. “That’s not how they do business and so if folks get a call like that, they should ignore the call and they should hang up.”

And if you do receive a call like that, the advice is to file a complaint with the attorney general’s office or the Federal Trade Commission. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.