Serious red flag!

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steele coddingtonHere's a frightening story that shocked my family's sensibilities. It hurts to even reiterate it, but someday you might thank me for disclosing it.

Last Monday morning around 8:30 our phone rang. My wife picked it up and said happily, "Hi dear son," whispering which son she was talking to. As she listened her face changed from the joy of contact with someone you dearly love, to frightened responses. "Oh no!" and "Where?" progressing to "Good God, don't worry." And then, "OK, good bye," with tears in her eyes.

Still clutching the phone, she said, "He's been arrested in Nashville, Tennessee. He and a friend won a three day trip there in a contest." She quickly explained that while driving their rental car they were stopped for a traffic violation and his friend was arrested on the spot for possession of narcotics. Because he was in the car, he was arrested too. He said this was the only call he was allowed to make and needed to turn it over to his Court appointed lawyer to explain what was going to happen. His last emphatic plea was, "Please don't tell or call anyone about this. I just want to explain it myself. Just please help me!"

Then, grabbing a pen, my wife began writing instructions. The lawyer introduced himself, very well spoken and clearly sympathetic, Larry Goldman. He explained that our son appeared to be a victim of an over-zealous cop, and he was sure he could get the charges dismissed, but time was of the essence because our son's hearing before the judge was in two hours. Court procedure required that to demonstrate responsibility, our son would need 10% of the bail to reassure the judge that if our son was found guilty, he would be responsible for the full bail.
It was critical to get the $4,000 (10%) to the Court before the hearing. The attorney explained that the quickest way to do that was to go to a local grocery store and obtain a Green Dot MoneyPak for that amount. Load our cash onto the cards and call the main Court office at 1-438-764-4573, extension 119 with the serial numbers on the back of the cards. The Court would then hold the cash to reassure the judge and return it to us as soon as our son was released. He ended saying, "If everything is clear, I'll put your son back on the line." But again warned us that our son was very disturbed because "he was in a holding cell with some not very nice people, so it will be brief." Our son came on the phone, obviously upset, distraught and embarrassed and said good bye. The lawyer came back on, urged us to go quickly and be sure to tell the cashier that "the money is for personal use." He said he'd be waiting for our call affirming to the Court that the money had been sent.

Ask yourself this question. What would you do if the son you love needs your help? Here's the conclusion of this frightening encounter. Because the Lord must have been with us, the night before the call I had tuned into a local TV channel, which I rarely do. At that very moment the reporter was interviewing two retired men separately who had each been conned by a call from "the IRS" demanding they immediately send $4,000 or face immediate arrest. They were instructed to send the amount in cash via Green Dot MoneyPak to a telephone number at IRS Headquarters in DC. Both fell for the scam.

Our son was asking for help, but the IRS MoneyPak on TV raised a Red Flag. It was all very authentic but also suspicious. So just to be sure, we decided to call our son on his cell phone. He answered immediately, "Hi Dad, what's going on?" He wasn't in jail in Nashville. He was at home in his state of residence, working, appalled at the scam. I called the local police, FBI and Consumer Protection Dept. of the Federal Trade Commission. We were told that we had almost been victims of "The Granny Scam."

To rub salt into this frightening violation, two hours later our phone rang again. It was lawyer Larry Goldman asking where the money was. It was then my pleasure to tell him what he could do to himself, along with other unprintable suggestions. He had the gall to say I had just committed a felony by threatening an officer of the Court. I told him to please come and arrest me!