I was threatened with jail, accused of missing grand jury duty, and manipulated by one skilled con artist.
It was 4:40pm when I received a call that a bench warrant had been issued for my arrest. This was allegedly issued because I missed grand jury summons on June 23rd. I was told if I hung up the phone, I would be interfering with an arrest and jailed for the night. I was told I was being "done a favor" to keep this off my record since I had a clean criminal record, therefore, if I produced $1,500 and brought it to the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, I would get to go home tonight.
I protested and asked for the deputies name and sergeants name. I was given legitimate names of officers I knew by name. I told the deputy I was not comfortable with this conversation and insisted on speaking to someone else. Another person, posing as a Captain, gave me a name of an officer that I also knew of by name through my work. When I resisted stating I had worked with the sheriffs department for 20 years and I wanted to speak with the sheriff, I was told if I disconnected the call, I would be arrested and spend the night in jail.
When I protested and said I had not been served jury duty, the alleged captain told me I could come to the sheriffs department and write a statement as such but I must present the $1,500 or go to jail for the night. I argued that you can't wait until 5:00 pm to call someone and expect them to produce that much money. He said he will walk me through how to get Reloadit Cards so I can go home to my family tonight.
Multiple times I asked for confirmation, he mentioned other officers names I knew, he referenced judges who I told him I had cell number to so I would call them to verify; impostor said he had worked with the sheriff (whom he called by name) for so many years. He told me if I attempted to call any of them he would not release my warrant which he was in complete control of and have me in jail for the night. I said I have a right to an attorney etc. He told me if I wanted to call people, I could come there and he would let me spend the night in jail. He knew my address. I still tried to call a judge I knew. No answer. The "captain" called back said deputies were en route. I hung up, called my husband. "Captain" calls back.
I hesitated but then decided if he is telling me to come to the jail with the money, what do I have to lose? I would go get the cards and go to the sheriffs department. I was not being asked for any personal information or anything. He knew my address, knew names of officers I knew, threatened me with jail, accused me of trying to use my connections to avoid consequences for which he would make me spend the night in jail. I caved.
I was told my calls were being recorded, I had a limited amount of time to get to the sheriffs department, I could not use a bondsman because of the time of day. I was threatened if I sent a text or tried to call anyone else, I would be interfering with my arrest which would be another charge.
I went to Winn Dixie. I bought the cards. They only come in $500 increments. I was told I had to stay on the phone. I was told if I mentioned to anyone at Winn Dixie why I was buying the cards, I would not be allowed to purchase them so I would not have the money to get out of jail so I again would spend the night in jail. At 5:20pm, I buy the first card. I got disconnected. He called back immediately and told me I was trying him and he was about to refuse to drop the warrant. I bought card number 2. I then was told by the cashier I was not able to buy the third card because of limits. Alleged officer tells me to walk to my car. He tells me to read him the card numbers to include a private scratch off serial number. I hesitate, tell him this does not feel right. I tell him it feels like a scam. He tells me I am going to be arrested...a deputy would be on the way....this was protocol.
I am sure it is part of their intention. I am nervous at this point, not thinking as clearly as I normally do. Therefore, my guard is down. I have been "held hostage" on the phone for an hour at this point.
I drive to the sheriffs department. I tell him I am in your parking lot and state if you want this, come outside and get it. He tells me I am trying him. If I contact any officer or come in without the money, I will be arrested. I hesitate. I pray. I determine in my mind, I can't spend the night in jail. I decide the worst thing that can happen to me is I lose the money which I came to terms was better than sitting in jail for the night. I would take my risk.
I give him a false serial number. He tells me it is wrong and he is beginning not to trust me (hello!). He tells me to go to the bank and get the other card. He asks me to give him the serial numbers. I tell him I am driving and cannot. He threatens me. I cave and give him one. I pretend not to find the second one. I am threatened continuously with jail time. Mind you the entire time, he is answering a radio, answers another call stating Lowndes County when he answers the phone. He talks to officers by name who I know to be legit names. He talks on the radio using Valdosta addresses as if he is talking to other deputies on the radio. He tells me over and over again names of the clerk, judges, officers and basically dares me to hang up unless I want to be arrested.
I return and get the third card. I begin to get scared. I am scared of a scam, but I honestly was more scared of going to jail. I give him the cards. He then tells me there are technical difficulties so I can go home but I must stay on the phone to him for 45 minute since I have an active arrest warrant. I must mail him the receipts where I bought the cards. He gives me the name of someone to send them to at the clerks office. I go to Dollar General which is close. I mute him. I ask to use the phone. I call a detective I know who says I have been scammed. I return to Winn Dixie. It is too late. Nothing I can do. I come home and hold for almost four hours with Reload it who opens a scam case.
I am savvy enough to open a reload it account online rapidly and attempt to outsmart the scammer. I think I grabbed the last two cards back before he cashed them out. I am waiting to see. IF that is the case, I am out $500. If not, I am out $1,500.
I am warning you because this felt real. I work with the sheriffs department all the time at work and I fell for this. I have multiple judges cell numbers in my phone. I have the sheriffs cell number. I know the detectives and have their numbers. I drove to the sheriffs department and let him scare me in to not going inside!!! Yet, I FELL FOR THIS! It scares me who else will. Thus, I warn you. The cell number was 229-206-8660. It said Sylvester, GA on my phone. I googled it, and the number is out of Worth County. I am sure it is a burner and there may be nothing that can be done but I can warn you. BEWARE!
I felt like I was a prisoner on the phone for two hours. I believed I could not hang up. I am shocked at myself. I am embarrassed on so many levels but I knew I needed to share to protect others. This consumed SIX hours of my time by the time I got on the phone to Reloadit. It is as much a mind game as it is anything else. I NEVER believed I would allow something like this to happen or that I would be able to be manipulated! Therefore, don't say I would never let something like this happen to me. Believe me, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you!
In the beginning of this call, I would never have agreed to give a serial number or any personal information. They know this. They spent two hours playing with my mind and emotions so that my guard was down and I would fall prey to this. Never say never. You will eat those words---and that will be the most expensive meal you ever have.
I believe there is a reason for everything so I knew I could not just sit over here embarrassed and not tell people because of my pride. I knew I must need to warn someone. I am on a mission to find out who did this but even more so to keep anyone else from falling for this.