PARKVILLE, Mo. — “She was just horrified,” Parkville Police Officer Mark Hill recalled.
He was talking about an elderly woman who called him toward the end of his shift last Friday to tell him she had just been scammed out of $10,000.
The scammer had called her on the phone, posing as a police officer in Mississippi. He said the woman’s granddaughter, who goes to college in Mississippi, had been arrested and needed the money to bond out of jail.
“Of course, my blood pressure is rising to the ceiling,” said the Parkville woman who only wanted to be identified by her nickname, Bert.
She said the “officer” even put her granddaughter on the phone.
“I said to her you don’t sound like yourself,” Bert said she told her granddaughter. “‘Well,’ she said, ‘I have bronchitis, and I had a friend of mine take me to the pharmacy to get my prescription, and on the way back we were pulled over,'” and that’s when police found drugs in the car.
Although shocked that her granddaughter would ever be in such a predicament, she was desperate to help.
“I just did everything they told me to do,” Bert said.
That included telling no one else in the family what had happened (because of a supposed gag order by the courts) and placing the money in a box filled with canned goods, so that the shipping facility would think it was filled with tools.
She then spent another $235 shipping it overnight by FedEx to an address in Las Vegas that was supposedly a bond company.
But Google Maps shows it’s really a private home. According to Las Vegas police, the house is vacant.
After mailing the package, she called the “police officer” back and demanded to speak to her granddaughter. That’s when she got suspicious and started asking questions.
“Clementine, what’s your birthdate?” she asked her granddaughter. The person on the other end of the line hung up.
She immediately called Parkville police.
Hill asked her for the package’s tracking number and called FedEx, hoping to stop the package before it reached the scammer.
But Hill had trouble reaching a real person at FedEx. He tried telling the automated phone system that it was a “police emergency.”
“And it disconnected,” Hill said. “So I did that six times.”
No luck. Then he called an old friend who is a federal officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That friend had a number of an actual person at FedEx.
“I talked to supervisor. I told him what was going on,” Hill said.
The FedEx supervisor had good news. The package hadn’t left Kansas City yet.
“I said what we need to do is, we need to seize that package because this is a scam,” Hill told the FedEx supervisor, who Hill said was willing to do anything he could to help.
“We had that packaged seized within 53 minutes of me receiving the call from her,” Hill said.
He then called Bert with the good news.
“It was just a little emotional,” said Hill, a seasoned police officer who got a little choked recalling how relieved Bert was to get her money back,
“Thank God. Thank God for them,” she said pointing to Hill and Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman. “I mean, God love you.”