(See what I did there? Sole. Heel. Sorry, it's the cocktail.)
Yesterday I got a call from a detective in Florida.
Correction (this is for the benefit of my hubby), a person who claimed to be a detective.
He said my credit card information was stolen and he had a list of names and personal information of the victims. He was calling them all to let them know. He then read me the information he had, which was my address, my birthday, a credit card number, a security question and answer, and a user ID and password.
I was a tad shocked, to say the least.
I freaked out just a little. I felt like somebody had just rifled through my underwear drawer.
I could just picture some freak looking at my name and credit card number, then closing his beady little eyes (because all criminals have beady little eyes) and inhaling the paper with his nasty nose breath, whispering, "Hello Clarissssssse."
Now, this detective who called me gave me a full name and two phone numbers where I could return his call. I was out running an errand for my boss when I got the call, so I couldn't verify anything at the time; but I must admit, I didn't immediately think "SCAM!" After all, he wasn't asking me for information, he was telling me what he already knew.
He also said his list of victims all had one thing in common - they had been in the mortgage business, like me. He said if I can remember the website where I would have used the user ID and password that were associated with my name, that would be helpful.
So, me, wanting to be the good citizen and cyber-crime solver, immediately started thinking about which website I used that would have matched all that info they had on me.
However, I wasn't without some reservations. When I got back to work, I did look up the Miami Beach police department phone number online (it matched the one he gave me), and called it, and asked if they had a detective there by the name of the one the caller gave me. They did.
I instant messaged my husband and filled him in on what my brilliant detective work had found.
He typed back: JUST STOP! DO NOT VERIFY. DO NOTHING ELSE UNTIL I GET HOME.
I typed: Huh? I verified. This is a cop.
He typed: OFFICER MEHOFF. REMEMBER OFFICER MEHOFF.
Awww jeez. THAT. When was he gonna let me live that down for crying out loud?
Since I haven't written of this before, let me fill you in.
About nine years ago, before we were married, I got a call in the middle of the night from a guy claiming to be with the "Nevada State Police." The guy claimed they had found a dead male body with no identification and which had my phone number in his pocket.
Another shocked moment.
Makes perfect sense right?
The caller then asked for my name.
I, the aforementioned brainy detective, dutifully supplied it.
I know. I'm an idiot.
The caller told me they were going to investigate further into the identity of the body and would call me back if they needed anything else.
A few minutes later he called back. He said they ran my name through a database to check my record and it came back that there was a warrant for my arrest because I had written bad checks.
Do you know what I said next? Because giving my name wasn't enough? I said, "How can that be? I don't write bad checks! I work for a bank."
|Could I have BEEN. ANY. STUPIDER?? (giphy.com)|
I just know on the other end of the line, the beady-eyed hoodlum was going, "CHA-CHING! WE GOT US A LIVE ONE! AND SHE AIN'T TOO SMART NEITHER!"
Then the caller said since there allegedly was a warrant out for my arrest, they had no choice but to send out an officer to arrest me and that if I had kids, I should arrange for a babysitter. He asked if by any chance, was I there alone?
And what do you think I said?
Yup. I admitted I was home alone.
|Rachel's right. I AM an idiot. (giphy.com)|
And I sat there all scared, thinking I'm about to be arrested for writing non-existent bad checks.
Meanwhile, I still was wondering who the poor sap was who had died and had my phone number in his pocket.
Now might be a good time to point out that I didn't just go around, all willy-nilly handing out my phone number to every poor sap I met.
That's hard to believe, given all the other information I so freely gave the collect caller, but really...I didn't.
Finally, I decided it was time to call my boyfriend (my now, hubby) and let him know what had happened and that if he didn't hear from me for a few days, it was because I was in jail.
I rattled off the events, clearly upset, and he said, "Lock the door, don't answer the phone, don't answer the door. I'm coming over."
That made me feel a little better. Maybe he could vouch for me when the police came to take me away.
The phone rang again, and I answered (Yeah, that not listening to hubby thing continues to this day).
It was the same guy. This time he said that if I would be so kind as to give him my bank account information in order for them to be able to verify that the bad checks were not actually mine, then we could get this whole messy matter cleaned up in a few minutes.
|Yeahhhh. Right. (giphy.com)|
I might have been born in the dark, but it weren't yesterday. I DID know enough not to give out my bank account information, for crying out loud.
I was one sharp cookie and they weren't gonna pull a fast one on me, no sirreee. I would proceed with caution now. I was onto them.
At this point, I asked for the officer's name.
He said Mehoff.
I said, "Officer Mehoff?"
He said yes.
Do you know what I said next? It was what any sharp, not born in the dark, street-wise person would have said:
"What's your first name?"
To which he replied, "Jack."
I dutifully wrote it down. Last name, Meehoff. First name, Jack. Got it.
|You still don't see this? Really? (reactiongifs.com)|
By now, my now-husband-then-boyfriend had arrived. I breathlessly relate the events, quite proud of myself that I got the name of the officer. I showed him the piece of paper where I carefully wrote it down.
My husband tells me still to this day, that it was at that moment he knew he must marry me. He all at once felt it his obligation to protect me from the world.
He said, "Honey, read the name, first name, then last name."
I replied, "Jack Mehoff."
He said, in an incredulous tone, "Honey?"
I said, "Jack Me...oh."
Jack. Me. Off.
So fast forward back to the present "I'm-a-cop-from-Florida" bit and you understand why my dear hubby reminded me of this unfortunate incident at this particular time.
Accepting defeat, I instant messaged him back that I wouldn't do anything else about the incident until he got home.
Curses. I knew he was right.. I should be less trusting and more cynical. But still....what if I could figure out which website had been hacked? Maybe I could save future victims. Maybe I could redeem myself from the Officer Mehoff debacle.
Hubby continued to instant message me warnings in all caps: DON'T DO ANYTHING ELSE UNTIL I GET HOME! He gives all the reasons why this could be a scam and how anything I did, even calling back, or giving any minor piece of information could put us at more risk.
|Yeah, this is pretty much how I pictured myself. (source)|
In the course of the mortgage business, I had used many lender, appraisal, credit, and employment verification websites, all of which were paid with a credit card. But the detective had said they had one piece of information that I knew wasn't required at any of those sites and that's what helped me figure it out.
"By George, Watson, we've got it!" I shouted to an empty room.
I had figured it out! I wanted to call the detective right then and shout, "I CRACKED THE CASE!!"
But there was the pesky little matter of my hubby who told me not to do anything else until he got home.
While I waited for him, I did a little googling of the detective's name. He seemed legit. I was wriggling in my seat with excitement, waiting for hubby to get home so I could brag about my detective skills.
Finally hubby arrived. He took one look at me grinning at the top of the stairs and said, "What did you do?"
|Luuuuucy! What did you do? (giphy.com)|
Poor hubby. He was still skeptical and shaking his head at my non-compliance, but I could tell he was just a little bit impressed with my persistence.
I pointed out that the website could still be compromised and there could be other beady-eyed criminals out there accessing the information of innocent people that used it and it was my duty to tell the detective what I knew.
He reluctantly agreed, but warned me to just give the website and no other personal information about myself. He is ever the skeptic.
I called the detective (at the verified office number of the police department) but had to leave a message, which was a bit anti-climatic. I really wanted accolades for my brilliant work. I figured if he called back, then they haven't figured out the website yet and my information could have helped and if he didn't call back then they had already figured it out without me.
He didn't call back. Oh well. Nancy Drew was unappreciated in her time too.
So what did I learn from all this?
1. I still need to be suspicious of phone calls saying they are from cops. This one looked like it was a real cop, but as hubby pointed out, it could have been a guy that just had the cop's business card and was pretending to be him.
2. The officer Mehoff incident will continue to be fodder for hubby to use against me.
3. I'm going to use a preloaded Visa card whenever I make purchases online, not my bank credit/debit card. I was just lucky that the card number they had for me had been closed a while back.
4. My new nickname, given to me by my brother, is "Booby Drew". I thought it was quite clever, the way he combined Nancy Drew and Sooby Doo, both notable detectives. Also, boobs.
In case you're wondering, the Officer Mehoff incident turned out to be a scam. When I got my phone bill later that month, it contained collect call charges from a Kentucky prison.
I called the prison and let them know what happened, and also filed a police report about the incident, but the damage had been done.
Somewhere there is a beady-eyed inmate named Bubba just waiting to get out so he can come visit me because I was nice enough to give him my name and address.
If you liked this post, please share it on Facebook. Other people should be warned not to be naive and fall for these scams! And also that Jack Mehoff might be a real person living in a Kentucky prison.