Sophisticated Scammers Target Mid-State Residents

Posted at 5:34 PM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-08 19:17:09-05

While some scams can be easy to spot, others have become so sophisticated that even the most educated people in our communities are falling for them and losing out on thousands of dollars. 

"If someone calls me and says I owe the IRS money or whatever, please, I'm not going to fall for it. I mean, everyone gets those phone calls," Dr. Cary Gannon, a surgeon in Franklin and a scam victim, said of scams. "But this one, this one was solid."

The scam Dr. Gannon fell for was extremely sophisticated, and the scammers had details that the normal person would not be able to get. 

"They knew my social security number, my birthday, every board I'd ever sat on," Gannon said. 

The scam started when Gannon's office received a phone call saying it was the police and that Dr. Gannon needed to call them back. When she called the number, she was told that she had warrants out for her arrest for failing to appear in front of a federal grand jury and contempt of court. 

Gannon did not recall receiving any notification of needing to appear in court, but they had such compelling information, such as her home address, her previous addresses, even her car's license plate number, that she believed they were legitimate. 

"It is very, very scary. Very, very real. It is so intricate with so much detail. It's not your typical scam," Gannon explained. 

The fake officers told Gannon that she had a $3,000 fine and could face up to 60 days in jail, but they would spare her the embarrassment of being arrested at work if she promised to turn herself in. They said they would also make certain it wouldn't go on her record, and her medical licensure and her DEA number would not be at risk. 

Gannon agreed to turn herself in and pay the fines, and the scammers gave her step-by-step instructions on what to do.

The scammers instructed Gannon to go to her bank, withdraw the $3,000, then buy cash cards to pay for the fines.

"At that point, you're thinking, 'Okay, this is a little odd,' but then again, maybe it's not. You know, I've never been arrested before," Gannon said. 

The scammers got the $3,000 from Gannon by her reading off the account number on each of the cards, then tried to get more money from her by saying one of the payments did not go through, but by that time, she had gotten in contact with the real police and found out it was probably a scam.

"These guys are getting better and better, and this case is an obvious example of that," Lt. Charles Warner, of the Franklin Police Department, said. "They really target their next victim to be someone that they know may have money and they know doesn't want to be inconvenienced with an arrest, and that's what happened here." 

Warner said if there is ever a situation where police or any other organization calls you asking for something, you can always hang up, look up their number, call them, and ask if the previous call was legitimate. If it was, you can follow through, if it wasn't, you can avoid being scammed. 

"Hang up on them. What are they going to do to you?" Warner said, encouraging people to double-check by calling a verified number. "They've already threatened to arrest you, how much worse can it possibly be?" 

For Gannon, she's hoping that by sharing her story, others will not fall victim to the scam. And while looking back on it she said she felt foolish, the scammers had so many details, she knows anyone could fall for it.

"I was terrified because they knew everything. They knew where I lived, they knew everything about me, and I felt that I was at risk of being followed," Gannon said. 

In these cases, it can be difficult for police to make an arrest, as many of the scammers conduct the scam from out of state.

Franklin officials have not identified suspects in this particular case.