Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Scam interrupted

This week is national consumer protection week, and a good time to relate a recent story about a scam interrupted. A young man who lives around the corner in my neighborhood received a telephone message from someone claiming to be Lt. Goblet of the Lincoln Police Department.  The message said that it was vital that he return the call, regarding an unspecified urgent issue. The teenager, however, is the son of a deputy sheriff and recognized that the call was fishy.  There is nobody named Goblet or anything remotely similar in area law enforcement, and LPD hasn't had any lieutenants since the rank was eliminated 15 years ago.

After reading the initial Incident Report, I subscribed to the case number, so I would stay informed about the case. This is a very nice feature in our police records management system.  You can subscribe to a case number, and whenever a fresh report is created you automatically receive an email including a hyperlink to the new report.  You can also subscribe to a name or to an address.  Over the ensuing couple of weeks, the investigating officer submitted three additional reports concerning his follow up efforts to track down the owner of the phone from which the call originated.

"Lt. Goblet" called from a 402 area code number.  When the records were subpoenaed, however, the number proved to be a burner cell phone with the billing address listed as a post office box in Irvine, CA.  It will be impossible to trace this down. In this case, our caller was a con artist looking for a mark in Lincoln, using a number with a local area code in order to build confidence in the call's legitimacy.  The "urgent issue" was undoubtedly going to be some attempt to convince our victim that he should send money to avoid some embarrassing revelation, or something along these lines.

You might make a thousand calls like this before you eventually hit one victim who falls for the scam.  Cons like this are not uncommon, and every year we will have a few victims who are taken in.  On a few past occasions, the con artists have used my name, working on the angle that the victim would recognize the name of their local police chief.  At any rate, nice job by the deputy's son in recognizing the scamn and contacting the police.  Officer Tu Tran actually returned the call to the number captured on the victim's caller ID, and got a rather colorful earful from the make believe lieutenant.


Anonymous said...

If only one scam target out of 10,000 bites, that's a lot of suckers our there.

Steve said...

This will probably put me on some kind of watch list, but they ought to take all these scammers and toss them in a big hole somewhere and set fire to them.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I LIKE the way you think!

Russ Zeeb said...


Press Release
Sarpy County Sheriff 8335 Platteview Road
Papillion, Nebraska 68046-2800
Telephone 402-593-2288
Fax 402-593-4323

INCIDENT: 8737-13
PREPARED BY: Lt. Chris Culler
DETAILS: The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office received a call of fraud at one of our local retailers. Upon arrival, it was discovered that an 84 year old had been contacted earlier today and was told she had won a Publishers Clearinghouse drawing worth 1.2 million dollars. The male caller, calling from an 876 area code, advised the 84 year old that she needed to purchase a prepaid card and provide that card number to the male caller, who identified himself as an IRS employee. The victim believed the caller, gave her cell phone number to the caller, and purchased a $500 prepaid card at the local retailer. Later today, the suspect called again and advised the 84 year old that they needed $1000 more for her to receive the prize. The victim returned to the retailer and attempted to purchase a $1000 prepaid card. An alert employee recognized the 84 year old and began questioning the victim. The employee immediately recognized the scam and contacted our office. Our office has begun an investigation into the scam.

Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis would like to remind everyone that scammers are targeting the elderly. This scammer knew the victim’s name. If you have family and/or friends who are elderly, please speak to them about this scam and advise them to contact their local law enforcement if they receive any calls requesting money in return for a prize. The Publishers Clearing House does award prizes during the month of March, giving the appearance of credibility to the scammers. The 876 area code is widely used by scammers.

Anonymous said...

"scamn" The N is silent.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:06: I can not find it spelled that way in my online dictionary. But if it was spelled that way, it would go nicely with, "That damn scamn."

My elderly mother would fall for anything. She's so gullible, she thinks when she reaches a recording, that it's actually a person just saying the same thing over and over. We really do need to watch out for our older members of society because at some point, they seem to lose the ability to think many situations through.

Anonymous said...

can you provide the link for case number and/or name/address notices? I couldn't find it. thnx.