“There is a warrant for your arrest”

August 14-20, 2023

By Jay Edwards


I was driving down a rural road in Saline County a few weeks ago when my phone rang. I looked at the number, which said the caller was from Little Rock, but it wasn’t one I recognized. Normally I just silence those and let them ring. Robo callers are relentless these days and while I seem to get at least one a day, they do tend to come in waves, and that week had been a tsunami.


“Hello,” I answered.


“Hello sir, how are you today?”


“Fine, how are you?”


“I’m well, thank you. This is Officer Bob Jones (not the name he gave me, which I’ve forgotten), I’m trying to reach John Edwards.” (John is my legal name)


“That’s me,” I said.


“Mr. Edwards, I’m calling from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. We’ve been trying to get in contact with you for a while. You were sent a summons to report for grand jury duty and you didn’t show up. I’m looking at a warrant for your arrest, signed by a judge.”


Our connection wasn’t very good but I had understood what he’d told me and he had my attention. 


“I never received a summons for jury duty,” I said.


“We show that it was mailed to 6 Banfield Lane.”


“I haven’t lived there in five years.”


“It was forwarded to 1421 N. University.”


“Well, that’s the right address but I never got it.”


“Mr. Edwards, we need you to come down to the Sheriff’s Department at 2900 Woodrow as soon as possible to get this straightened out.”


“OK,” I told him, “I’m in Saline County now and have a quick stop I need to make so I can probably be there in about 20 minutes.”


“Sir, if you are in Saline County you can take care of this there at their courthouse.”


I had been at the Saline County Courthouse a half hour ago and told him that.


“Yes sir, if you can go back there that will work.”


“Actually, I’m closer to Woodrow and since that’s the direction I’m headed, I’ll just come there.”


“That will be fine sir, I’m just going to need you to stay on the line with me until you get here.”


I can’t say exactly what I thought when he said that. It seemed odd, yet somehow official, like, if I was on the line with him, I wouldn’t try and make a run for it. Then for some reason O.J. and Al Cowlings and that white Bronco popped into my head and I looked up to the sky to see if a helicopter was there.


“Mr. Edwards, I need to let my supervisor know you’re on your way. Stay on the line please and I’ll be right back.”


“OK,” I complied.


About a minute later he came back.


“Sir, my supervisor said that when you get here, to get this cleared up we will have you sign a DNR form.”


“What’s that?”


“It stands for did not receive.”


“Oh, good, I was thinking it was do not resuscitate.”


He didn’t laugh. Then I asked him to tell me the name of the judge who had signed the warrant. He said he didn’t have it in front of him.


“As I said, Mr. Edwards, you will need to sign the DNR, as well as give two more handwriting samples so we can do a verification. We will also need two forms of identification.”


“I have a driver’s license.”


“Any other forms that will attest that you are who you say you are?”


Thinking back, this should have been a pretty good tip off something was amiss. This guy had called me. So, I’m going to show up at the sheriff’s office having stolen the real John Edwards driver’s license? But I was flustered, I admit.


“Mr. Edwards, do you have any other ID on you?”


“Just a VISA and an Exxon card.”


“Do you have a personal check?”




“Sir I need you to hold again while I check on this. Please stay on the line.”


In a minute he was back.


“OK Mr. Edwards, my supervisor says to come in. Once you’re here you will need to post a $2,300 bond, which will be reimbursed to you once we get this straightened out.”


That was like a cold slap in the face, which I needed.


I said, “I’m calling my lawyer,” and disconnected the call.


“My next call was to my good friend the judge. I told him the whole story and he said it was most likely a scam but that he’d call another judge to make sure. He called me right back and told me the other judge said, “We don’t put out warrants for people who don’t show up for jury duty. We reprimand them and tell them they’ve messed up and not to ever do it again, but we don’t arrest them.”


I asked my friend the judge how he thought the scammers would have proceeded with me, the mark, who “Officer Bob” must have felt like he was close to closing. The judge told me they usually try and get you to buy gift cards and give them the numbers or codes over the phone.


I thanked my friend and headed home, no worse for wear and not $2,300 poorer, but still feeling somewhat violated. As I drove, I began hoping Officer Bob would call back. Even though I had escaped his ruse, I felt he’d somehow gotten the better of me. But, of course, he didn’t call back, more likely having moved on to the next number on his list. I hoped that person got the same result I did.


A few days ago, I was watching CBS Good Morning and a story about scams came on. A man named Jeff Pliskin was being interviewed about what had happened to him. He said he received an email from a good friend that said he had tried purchasing a $200 Amazon E-gift card for his niece on her birthday but his credit card had been declined so would Pliskin do it for him and he would reimburse him.


Pliskin agreed. Then a little bit later another email came from the friend saying he thought $200 was enough to buy a particular item she wanted but it wasn’t. Could he do $400? Pliskin again said yes.


It happened a third time and by the time it was over, being the good friend that he was, Pliskin had sent $600 to a scammer.


Mike Driscoll, a cybersecurity expert and former chief of a New York FBI headquarters, said that in 2022 they saw consumer losses from scams of over 10 billion dollars and over 800,000 complaints.


The numbers rose dramatically during the pandemic and while people over age 60 lost the most in dollars, the age group that was scammed the most was much younger. Perhaps that is because those younger than me just answer their phones more and that older people generally have more assets to tap into.


I used to enjoy messing with people who called, when I was pretty sure they were scamming me. My wife, KM, is five months older than me and about six months before her 65th birthday I started getting calls on my cell phone about Medicare plans she needed. There were a lot of them. They would always ask for her. One day, instead of just hanging up, I told the person I was her husband and asked why he was calling.


“Well sir,” he began, “since your spouse will soon turn 65, she needs to choose the Medicare plan now that best fits her needs.”


“Wait a second,” I said. “What do you mean she will soon be 65?”


After hesitating he said, “Uh, that’s what it says here sir, that she will turn 65 in two months.


While my wife could easily pass for someone ten years younger, I figured this guy didn’t know that.


“Dang buddy! I thought she looked older than 55. I can’t believe this! What do you think I should do?”


(Longer hesitation) Sir?


“I mean if you were in my shoes and you found out that your wife … I’m sorry, are you married?”


“Uh ...no, I’m not.”


“Well based on this pal, that’s probably a good thing. I’m afraid I’m going to have to call you back because someone has some explaining to do.”


But he’d already hung up.


Hope this helps someone. Be careful out there.  

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