23 October 2009

How I Was Nearly Scammed

At about 17:30 today my phone rang. All it said was "Blocked." A man identifying himself as "Potter County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Porter" told me that one of my employees was being held on a DUI charge and had chosen to use her one phone call to ask me to post bond for her. (For reasons I can't detail, he said things that made this sound especially legitimate.) He knew my name and occupation, her name, her description, and that she'd been sick with the flu recently; he knew my whereabouts, even claiming to be "tracking my iPhone via GPS" and telling me which streets I was turning down/parking lots I was pulling into.

I don't know anything about being arrested or posting bond. It's been awhile since I watched Law And Order. "Deputy Porter" was a very authoritative and compassionate sounding man. He sounded like pretty much every cop I've ever known. He quoted laws, statutes, and regulations. He was never pushy in the slightest. It was intense but laissez-faire at the same time. He put me on hold several times to "push paperwork through" and "see if he could get her into the final court for the day."

As I was about to send the money to "the bail bondsman" my trusty paranoia finally kicked in to combat my adrenaline. I realized I had no way of really knowing who it was I'd been speaking with for more than thirty minutes. I hung up the phone and used Google Maps to get the Potter County Sheriff's phone number. I called and asked to speak to "Deputy Porter." Yeah. No such person.

I almost sent $700 via MoneyGram to a "bail bondsman." It was surreal. I'm still in utter disbelief, even hours later. I ended up giving a sworn affidavit to an Amarillo Police Department officer. It is being forwarded to their Fraud/Forgeries Division.

Always be certain of who you're talking to on the phone. Tell them you'll hang up and call them back. I know I'll never again smirk at the thought of someone falling for a scam. These guys really are pros.

[mccracken]

1 comment:

austin.s.martin said...

Impressive. Smart move.