OKLAHOMA CITY - Karen West says she hit the panic button.
“He sounded really authentic and he told me I had missed jury duty,” she said.
Now she owed a whopper of a fine and was hours away from being hauled off to jail, or so she thought.
“There is going to be a police car at your house,” she said. “He is on your way to arrest you.”
Unless she paid the fines!
Karen says she was so terrified of spending the weekend locked up she took out cash advances and put thousands of dollars on prepaid debit cards she purchased at dollar general and drug stores around town.
Oklahoma City Police Triad coordinator, Sheryl Presley, has dedicated her life to sniffing out scams and educating seniors on crime prevention.
She says police and the sheriff's office will never solicit fine payments over the phone.
“When someone calls you if you don't know the number don't even pick up the phone and answer it, but verify the information.”
- Verify the caller's information and who they work for.
- If something seems off, hang up, and call that agency directly for verification.
Karen says what made the caller so believable is he didn't have a foreign accent and talked like he knew the area.
He even had her drive to the Oklahoma County Jail to make payment over the phone, because remember, all the scammers needs to drain the prepaid debit card is the number on back.
“So we did and he said, ‘I am so sorry. I apologize so much I didn't notice another fine on page 2,’” Karen said.
The scam artist baited her again and succeeded.
Here's the In Your Corner bottom line:
- Jury notices are sent in the mail by the court clerk.
- If you get a call like this do not give out any personal information or make a payment, but do alert the Attorney General's office and local law enforcement to file a report.
- Remember our seniors are at them most risk for exploitation.
“I would have been embarrassed not trusting the guy,” she said.
Oklahoma City Police and the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department offers crime prevention and monthly meetings for seniors through their Triad program.
The coordinator for Oklahoma City's Triad program is Sheryl Presley.
Sheryl can be reached at (405) 316-4336.