>> Tuesday, September 27, 2011
But I'm happy to say that I've scored a small victory for the little guy!
So, yesterday morning -- there I am with Nudgie in the Goodwill looking for fall-colored placemats. My phone rings with a number I don't recognize, so I let it go to voice mail. I went out to my car and listened to my voice mail and get a message from a woman with a very thick accent and very bad phone connection.
"Violet Watson" from the "Federal Claims Enforcement Network" was calling to inform me that I was in default of a $300 payday loan taken out last year and that I was being investigated for fraudulant activity and that if I didn't make payment arrangements by 3pm they were sending the Colorado police to arrest me.
So, I call back.....because I KNOW that I never took out a payday loan -- E.V.E.R!!!!
I get Ms. Watson back on the line along with her very bad phone connection and background noise that sounds like something from Ellis Island back in the day. Red Flag #1.
She proceeds to tell me that she can negotiate a settlement deal for the amount due. I asked her for specifics -- the name of the company, the exact month and day of this so called deposit into my account. She wouldn't provide that information. She explained that her "Higher Authority" (what is this -- a cult??) would not authorize the release of that information until I entered into an agreement to pay this back. Red Flag #2.
Oh - and did I mention that they only way they'd accept payment was either via a prepaid debit card or Western Union? Or that the total due is now $1500?? Red Flag #3.
But, I'm not stupid.....and I'll play your silly games. So I asked her for the information so that I could fax something over to her (keep in mind, I've never committed to making any payments.....) She gives me the name of the company. the FAX number and dictates what I need to put in this letter word for word. (I'm thinking....keep talking sweetheart, the police just LOVE complete details like this....)
She again says that if I do not complete this agreement that the Colorado police will come and arrest me. (Can we be specific on WHICH Colorado police? Since Colorado IS a pretty big state you know....) Red Flag #4.
I hang up and go straight to my bank where I give them a heads up. When I got home, I went online to the Big Three (credit agencies) and put an alert on ALL of my family members' SS#s. I also do a quick Google search and found a GOLDMINE of information regarding this scam. The bonus was that the company that the flowery Violet claimed to be working for doesn't EVEN EXIST! I read post after post after post from people who have gone through the same exact thing
Fast forward to this morning......
9:30am: I get another call from the lovely Violet telling me that I have not yet FAXed over my committment letter or the information for the debit card. I proceed to tell her that I know this is a scam and that she's not getting one damn dime from me and hung up.
9:40am: A second call from the persistent Ms. Watson goes straight to my voice mail, as does the call at 9:45am, 9:50am, 9:55am, and 10:00am.
10:10am: I pull into the parking lot of what I ASSUMED was a working police station. The halls are dark. The only doors that go anywhere are locked with keypads. Did I mention that I had Nudgie with me? Right after an early morning doctor appointment for a bad cold? And that I had TONS of errands to run?
10:30am: After finding no cops in sight, I go back to the car, carrying Nudgie like a potato sack, and drive around to the other side of the building where I see two cops? detectives? coroners? who knows. But they are just standing there. So I drive up and ask if they can help. I proceed to try to explain my situation and that all I want to do is talk to a cop about filing a complaint. The helpful answer I get? "We can't do that here. Go home, call 911, tell them it's not an emergency and they'll send a cop to your house to fill out a report." Seriously????? To protect and serve my ass.
10:45am: I peel out of the parking lot -- almost daring them to come after me -- when I remember the other police station -- on the other side of town.
10:50am: Ms. Watson really misses me and decides to try calling me back and again at 10:55am, 11:00am, 11:05am
11:20am - I arrive at the other police station and explain to the dispatcher what's going on. She said she'd send an officer down to take my report. I take a deep breath and wait and pray that Nudgie won't go ballistic on me.
11:25am - Nudgie starts to get thirsty. I go to use the vending machine, but it won't take my dollars and just 2 days ago I deposited all my change into the change jar. So I have a choice -- let my child dehydrate before my eyes or take the risk with tap water since for SOME reason -- the police station felt that us commoners didn't deserve water fountains. I take my chances with the tap water and vow to give her some old antibiotics when we get home just in case.
11:30am - Nudgie starts to color on the back of bills that I had in my bag. I'm sure the electric company is going to LOVE getting a hand-drawn note along with their payment this month.
11:35am - An officer finally calls my name. He doesn't sit down. Looks uncomfortable when I offer my hand for a handshake and proceeds to give me an "I DARE you" look when he introduces himself as Officer Ron MacDonald. I proceed to explain what's going on all the while watching the look on his face that says, "You're seriously interrupting my lunch for THIS?" And he talks to me like I'm Nudgie saying, "You DO know this is a scam, right?" I told him that I thought I should report this especially since they are claiming to impersonate a police officer. Last I checked, that was a crime, right? Oh, and Nudgie has now found some reading material to keep her occupied.....
11:50am - Phone rings again. I look at Officer Golden Arches and tell him that it's the lovely Violet again. He tells me to answer and put it on speaker phone. When I answer, they ask for "Jennyber" (and no, that's not a typo) "B" and I say, "Speaking". The woman goes on to say, "My name is Marilyn Memmer and I'm calling with the Federal Claims Enforcement Network. It is my understanding that you did not follow through with your agreement and as of 3pm this afternoon, the Colorado police will be coming to your home to arrest you for this default. You still have time to resolve this issue and if you choose to do so, you may contact Officer Violet Watson with the Colorado police to make arrangments." WOW!! The lovely Violet moonlights as a police officer too!! Officer MacDonald - my knight in shining armour - takes the phone from me as says (and I paraphase slightly) -"M'aam, this is Officer MacDonald of the Denver Police Department. I am standing here with Ms. "B" and have heard the entire conversation. You are hereby notified that by impersonating a police officer you are committing a federal crime. We have this phone number ---- CLICK"
No more Ms. Memmer or now Officer Violet Watson. Officer Ron smiled and said that he didn't think I'd be bothered any more. But unfortunately, these calls are routed through so many numbers and are more than likely to be international calls that the local police really can't do anything.
So, I start to gather up Nudgie who has been trying to dig out the crayons that she had been shoving in between the bench cushions. Officer Ron tried to help her and then I hear him say, "Is that a tooth??" He pulls his hand back and he is holding a tooth (which, last time I checked, did not belong to my daughter - and no, he wouldn't let me take a photo for the blog....) I saturate Nudgie's hands with hand sanitizer and tell myself that I see a complete alcohol bath in her future when we get home.
I thanked the nice officer, gathered up my bag, my daughter, and her reading material (since she just wouldn't let it go....) and practically ran back to my car. But so far -- for the last 2 hours -- my phone has been silent!
Bottom Line -- don't be afraid to fight back! These people are predators and prey on innocent people. It's easy to see how people can be scared into paying something back that they aren't even responsible for. Heck - even just for a few seconds, I was even second-guessing myself -- I'll admit it.
Know your rights. Keep a paper trail. Save voice mails. It'll help you in the end!