The Campaign For DA

10.28.2014

I've Said Before "I Couldn't Possibly Be Scammed" aka "I Had A Crazy Morning And Almost Got Scammed"


Ever heard of MoneyPak? Me neither until this morning. Those four cards (attached to the back) are on my desk at a value of $500 each. So how did they get there? Holy cow.

My dad urgently called me this morning and tells me that he had received some bad news from my nephew. One of his best friends had been killed in California and he had flown out there over the weekend.   He was picked up by a friend of that deceased friend who he didn't know at the airport , a traffic stop by California's finest had subsequently occurred, and a small amount of marijuana had been found in the guy's car. Unfortunately, both were arrested.  My nephew had called my dad, crying and distraught, and told him he didn't want to call his parents or tell his wife because the situation was so embarrassing and he didn't want them to worry.  He dropped some personal info as well. He said he had been appointed a lawyer (Eric Matthews 442-237-1781)* who was working at the Escondido Police Department building that day.  So what gives?

Bond was at $2,000. A cash bond only. And the lawyer had made reference to a cash card which you could load and then scratch off to get a code from the back. Give him the codes and the nephew would be out of jail today.   Dad felt the deal was legit but wanted me to talk to the lawyer. I obliged. (Dad thought about calling my nephew to let him on his cell to let him know we were working on it but I assure him that since he's in jail, he wouldn't have access to that phone.)

I called the number the lawyer gave dad and a nice gentleman answered the phone "Escondido Police Department." Odd, but the guy was a public defender and some of those guys work in government buildings. I asked for Eric Matthews and was transferred. I spoke with the guy and, man, he was convincing. I hit him with some criminal law questions and the answers were legitimate. He said a surety bond wasn't possible and that a credit card wouldn't work because "all of the phone lines are recorded." OK, that's a little weird, but the guy DIDN'T want a credit card number.  We also said we could also wire the money but that could take a couple of days. He explained how MoneyPak works and that would be the way to get him out of jail today. Once the case was disposed over, I'd get the money back -- which is exactly the way a cash bond works. He ended the call saying that he didn't expect the charges to stick since my nephew was in a car with a stranger and the marijuana was found stashed in an area of the car that wasn't open and obvious. He's right. That would be a crappy criminal case. I like the way this guy thinks.

I called dad back. Everything seemed legit we agreed. A little weird, but legit. Who knows how California works. "That's why I called you to get your opinion on this thing," he said. We've got a family member in jail in California and we need to get the kid out. He's got to be panicked. We're a little panicked ourselves.

I had to run to docket in Decatur so I got the money to my assistant, Darla, to go down to CVS to buy the cards. (The lawyer had been kind enough to inform me that the cards are available at CVS.)  When she later handed them to me, she told me the clerk told her that once the card was used, the money is gone. There wasn't any type protection.  In fact, some customer had come back last week trying to get his money back.  I looked at the back of the card which read: "Use your MoneyPak Number only for the accounts and only with partners listed at www. moneypak.com. If anyone else asks for your MoneyPak Number, it's a scam and we are not responsible for paying you back." Ummkayy.

Ok, now I'm suspicious again.  I google the Escondido Police Department and don't see the number that I used to call the lawyer.  I checked out the California Bar Association and searched for Eric Matthews and got nothing. Hmm. I dialed the number that I used to talk to him the last time and I hear "Escondido Police Department."  I ask the guy who Eric Matthews was and he tells me he's a public defender who will be at an office at the police department that day.  He transfers me to Matthews and I asked him straight up, "Hey, I don't want to offend you but can you verify for me in some way who you are?"  He is evasive at this point. I tell him his name doesn't show up at the Bar Association website. "Do they list public defenders?" he asked. He then says he's with Clarks Law Firm out of San Diego (he certainly could be a part time public defender). I'm trying to google and talk at the same time. I'm close to giving him the numbers. But, I pause, and tell him to give me thirty minutes. Oh, he actually said, "You're going to just have to trust me a little bit in this deal."

I called dad back to ask him how he got in contact with Matthews in the first place.  He tells me that my nephew called him (dad), knew personal information, and then he was transferred to the court appointed lawyer.  Sheesh. He talked to my nephew? However, it sounded like a quick and panicky call so I'm still worried.

At this point, I put my best person on the job: My assistant.  She called the Escondido Police Department with their listed number from their website to verify my nephew was in jail and to verify Eric Matthews identity. She was barely able to speak two sentences before the nice lady asked her, "Is this about someone being in jail after a marijuana arrest and a lawyer wants you to send him money for bond? It's a scam. We've been dealing with this for weeks."

Holy cow.

She said the calls appear to be via VOIP and are probably coming from Canada. She also said they seem to be targeting the midwest over the last couple of weeks.

Holy cow again.

I thanked her and hung up. Wait a second. I was watching the Cowboy game last night and didn't I see my nephew throw out a couple of tweets about Colt McCoy?  I double checked. Yep, he did. So now I come up with an obvious problem solver: Call my nephew.  "Where are you?" I ask. "Waco," he says. "You're not in a jail in California?" I ask. He replied with, "This is the craziest conversation I've ever had."

I should have know Google would have been my friend . . .


Upon reflection, yeah, it seems like an obvious scam.  But someone was able to trick dad into thinking he was talking to my nephew.  And then once dad calls me to tell me he's talked to my nephew who is in jail, I'm biting hard.
____
*I didn't post a comment because of, uh, colorful language, but it was suggested that everyone call that number just to screw with them. Be my guest.

Edit: I found that earlier this year a similar scam involved a "Sergeant Eric Matthews"

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

TLDR....

Ahhh.... kidding... cool story bro!

wordkyle said...

So can you get your money back on those cards? Or are you forced to spend the money with moneypak's approved "partners?"

You may have been scammed after all.

Anonymous said...

These sort of scams are usually a call to an older/elderly person from a grandchild -- a grandparent will be concerned and want to help, but won't know the grandchild's voice well enough to know it's not real. And since caller ID is easily spoofed, the scammer can actually have the call appear to come from the relative's phone number, which would pop up all the right contact information etc. on the recipient's cell phone. An open Facebook profile can usually give enough information to fake out a grandparent.

BagOfNothing.com said...

I'm glad you posted the phone number, it will help anyone that will Google it find out it's a scam through this post. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Skippy, How may hours did you bill your Dad?

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I'll give 'em a call later...

Anonymous said...

This scam happened to my Mother a few months ago.
It took an act of Congress to get the money back from the card company.My Mother figured it to be a scam when the caller called back and was rude.He said - Did you get the money Grandma? Did you get? Did
you get it?
Look out elderly folks in Wise County.This scam is for real.

Anonymous said...

remember Green..you can trick a tricker, but you can't fool a fooler..hmmm

Anonymous said...

A while back my grandmother had a call from someone claiming to be her grandson and he was stuck in Las Vegas. Thankfully she knew enough to ask a bunch of questions and the guy hung up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I dropped an F bomb at your Dairy Queen party. Now I know the rules. Everyone call these people for about an hour straight. I called him just to mess with him. He didn't like me.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the reasons I don't participate on Facebook or other social websites other than this blog.

Why would anyone want to put all of their personal information out there for everyone to see and use?

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you fell for it!!! There were so many questionable reasons to know it was a SCAM you dork.

Anonymous said...

@2:48

You can use Facebook and other "social websites" without putting any personal info at all. I tell (usually older) people all the time that they are missing out on what I believe is Facebook's best aspect:

Pictures of friends and family. I bet there is someone you love who is on Facebook all time posting pictures and you're missing out.

Wurdkyle said...

I'll sell you MY blog and a copy of my new book: "340 Blank Pages" for $2,000 worth of moneypacks!

Second sentance asking snarky question goes here?

Anonymous said...

I just called and had a 15 minute phone call with them. Was pretty funny actually. They said that they are with ISIS (he wasnt he was just being stupid) and that lots of people fall for it. Offered me a job and said he makes thousands per day. It actually was the best phone call I had all day long. lol

Anonymous said...

Anytime someone insists on payment via a Green Dot MoneyPak, it is a scam. This is 100% fact. The only reason to insist on this payment method is the untraceable nature of it.

Anonymous said...

So, what you're saying is, CVS knowingly contributes to SCAMs of the elderly and less enlightened individuals because they sale the MoneyPak cards. I'm not trying to start anything, but if a law suit evolves over this with CVS count me in I could use the money. If not, I think I'll just go to Walmart and trip over one of the many buggies they have lingering in the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

I called. It was fun. "Pretended" to be a Wise County redneck with a nephew in the slammer. Acted all stupified(I did my WK imitation, worked like a charm).

There is a screener guy you have to get by to get to Eric Matthews, just sound confused and panicky(like WK) and you can get by him easy.

And to BU, this is called the grandparents scam. They call older folks pretending to be their grandkids, thinking that most grandparents don't talk to their grandkids that much and can be fooled into sending money to help them out. The use the "I didn't want to tell Mom and Dad" angle to get the grandparents to buy in to help out. Usually the grandkid is in Mexico on spring break or in some other location outside the US, making them difficult to reach.

Easy solution, to "verify" is to call the family member in question. I know a family this happened to where the grandkid in trouble in Aruba was actually in the grandparent's house watching TV when the call came in.

Awkward.

Robot 2284

Anonymous said...

3:23

I'll give you 2K in Green Dot MoneyPak cards to just....disappear...and take the "real" WK with you.

Robot 501

Anonymous said...

Just called asked for "Eric". He said "yea, we saw it on the website, buddy". I assume he'll be a regular LL reader from now on.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4:50 Good luck suing Walmart they have more money and a whole herd of lawyers to deal with that sort of thing. Ask BG he can tell you.

Anonymous said...

I called. He said that he made $2,000.00 today and that he is changing his number tomorrow. I kept him on the phone till he hung up....

Anonymous said...

But the offer to help me get my inheritance into the U. S. is really legit. Truly.

DF Nigerian Prince

Anonymous said...

well I called in my best negro al sharpton voice and I axed him if he was the mf'r what had my boy locked up, and dis went on til he hung up on my ass..got my dollar wurf today!!

Anonymous said...

What realm is this? Tell me!

Anonymous said...

Go check it out tough guy.

Anonymous said...

My nephew called me one night to tell me the same thing. I hung up and laughed ,he didn't do that stuff. A moment later a policeman that I knew called me back and said it's true but we know he's not involved. Just come and get him ,he's afraid to call his dad.

Anonymous said...

I think the real question here is.... John got married???

To who?

Always liked john. Great kid. Guess he's a man now.

Anonymous said...

Channel 8 did a report last night out of Rockwall about a similar scheme.

Anonymous said...

Just had this happen a couple of weeks ago my BIL's parents. Luckily, he was on the phone with his mother and overheard his father on the other phone with them about to give the card numbers to supposedly get their grandson out of jail in California.

Another minute or so and it would have been too late.

Anonymous said...

Happened to a lady in Bridgeport. Got her for $4k.

Anonymous said...

I had a VERY similar scam almost get me 2 weeks ago, except we were buying a car for a friend. I too pride myself in not falling for scams, yet almost fell for it. It was craigslist. The Carfacts checked out when she gave us the VIN number. The lady said she would pay to ship it to us and that she just wanted to get rid of it because it was her sons and he died in a motorcycle wreck. It had 88k miles and was only $1500. She then said to protect everyone she was going to run it through the ebay car sales website as it had buyer and seller protection. We got the ebay email and everything matched up. It said we were to buy those cards at CVS and then scratch off the codes and fax the numbers in to a provided fax number. It said they would hold the funds until we received the car and accepted the deal. Fortunately, we looked on Ebay and saw that the service wasn't allowed unless the car was sold through Ebay motors. It was a scam, but I almost fell for it. I have the 3 ($500) green cards to show for it. Fortunately, we didn't send them the codes and we still have our money, but it was a close call.

Anonymous said...

That would be my luck to try and scam someone with your dad's and your profession!! Everyone is afraid of a banker and a lawyer!