Scammed – Part II

In my post of October 19, 2014, I reported on how I was scammed by a crying woman – whose family had allegedly been in a serious accident.

Yesterday, I was talking with a fellow lawyer. He mentioned that he’d received a voicemail message from his father – “Call home as soon as you can.” He did. The father was agitated and reported that his grandson – my friend’s nephew who is a minor – had been detained by police for drinking and having open alcohol in the car.  The caller – a “lawyer” – said he could resolve things for “four hundred dollar Amazon gift cards.” The father was to get the gift cards – and impart the numbers by telephone.

My friend called the boy’s high school.  Turns out that the boy was in sitting in class — nowhere near a police station. Eyes narrowed and efforts to track down the criminals was fruitless.

These crooks go on Facebook, track names, chronicle dates and gather information.  They identify relatives – and then spring.

There are a lot of scams out there — especially for older folks (which includes anyone older than I am).  I have received a fair number of calls from folks (who sound like they’re from Mumbai) indicating that I have been targeted by the IRS and that if I only I send . . . . .

The upshot is — when you get calls like this that seem urgent and require the sharing of personal information, don’t do it.  It’s likely a scam.  It’s a serious and ongoing problem.  If you need more information on scams, send me your Social Security number and credit card information and I will forward to you my recommendations for avoiding them. 

Scammed

Last Sunday, Donna and I were at Church with Lauren and Trent.  I was one of two ushers for the service. The service was winding up.  I was outside the doors when in walks a woman who is sobbing. Barely able to speak.   As might be expected, I asked “what’s wrong.”

The woman identifies herself as “Deborah ___” – a name I recognize vaguely.  She says her daughter and granddaughter were killed early that morning in a car crash – drunk driver – near Madison, Wisconsin.  They were coming down to attend church.  She asked if she could leave a message for our priest. We go into an anteroom, the other usher joins us and I go into the sanctuary to advise the priest of what’s going on (who is now coming down the aisle having finished the service).   The priest exits, greets the woman, listens and the woman cries into his vestments.  She says she’s on her way to Madison and needs a few bucks.  He gives her some $$$ and so do I.  And the woman departs.  And then it dawns on us. . . . .

Turns out she is not a member of the Church (though frankly in a legitimate “situation” that might not make a difference).  And no one knows her.  We Googled the names and alleged incident.  And found nothing.   The reason I recognize the name “Deborah ____” is that Donna has a friend of that name.  Scammed. . . . . 

While this has never happened before (and probably will not again), we have discussed a possible protocol for dealing with such situations:  are you a member?;  know anyone here?; photo ID?;  wait right here while we get someone to help.   Not a good feeling having been “taken” like that.