Most of us think we’d never fall for a con, right? Well, one highly educated San Diego County woman thought the same but told NBC 7 that the fear tactics used by a crook were enough to make her believe it was a legitimate call.
"I’m concerned that my patients will think differently of me" if they knew she had fallen for the scam, the woman said.
This local doctor did not want to reveal her identity, especially after the backlash she said she received when she tried to alert others of the scam on social media. The scammers tricked her into sending more than $8,000 by posing as local law enforcement.
According to the doctor, she was dealing with a lot of personal and family turmoil when her phone rang one evening. On the line was a man claiming to be a sheriff’s lieutenant. The man told her he was on his way to her home to execute an arrest warrant for missing a court date as an expert witness, she said. She didn’t know anything about that, of course. He told her it was possible someone had forged her signature to appear in court.
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"He said you can’t look up anything online, you can’t contact anybody, there’s a no-contact order," the woman told NBC 7.
She said that he explained she would need to pay a bond to avoid getting arrested while everything got sorted out. She followed the man’s instructions and sent the money through Bitcoin machines in San Diego. These ATMs alert users of scams.
"He kept saying, once we get everything cleared, we won’t report anything on your record," the woman said. "Nothing will be sent to the medical board, to the national health care database. I'm like, 'Wow, yeah, that really is important to me.' That's all I could think about."
NBC 7 Responds
The caller didn’t stop there. She said that once she sent the money, he had her send him pictures of herself and told her to meet him at the sheriff’s department. It was there that she found out it had all been a scam.
"I really felt really humiliated — incredibly humiliated," the woman said.
Afterward, she noticed other texts instructing her to do graphic things at the sheriff’s department. Her humiliation was even worse, she said.
San Diego Sheriff's Department Lt. Scott Roller said that he hates that this scam used the names of actual investigators to make it seem more credible.
"No one ever wants to have their name dragged through the mud," Roller said.
As for the doctor, she says her work has helped her to move past what happened and that she’s forgiven the man who stole from her, and scared and humiliated her.
"There's a day where justice will come," she said, "maybe not in this life, but in the next for sure."
The sheriff’s department said it never tells people they can pay to avoid an arrest. If you have a warrant, deputies would simply just pick you up. Also: Be wary of anyone calling and saying you’re in trouble and need to pay up for missing jury duty. That’s another popular scam that NBC 7 Responds has been hearing about.