By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large
The scams, they just keep on coming. I’ve often wondered if people who put these things together spent the same amount of time applying their brains and their efforts to something legitimate, would they get to enjoy both money and the opportunity to spend it?
Take the case of Toney Calhoun, of Jacksonville, Florida. Calhoun was just sentenced to five years in prison for running a nationwide warrant scam. Warrant scams are just the latest in a long list of scam “types” that have innocent parties forking over their dough in fear, conjured by the admittedly-effective scam artist on the other end of the phone. In Calhoun’s case, he and a couple of associates operated something called TAC & Associates, based in Jacksonville. Calhoun and his pals, now co-defendants themselves, would call victims all over the country, identifying themselves as detectives and managing to convince these folks that they had warrants out for their arrest. Calhoun would offer them the opportunity to keep from being arrested…if they agreed to send money to him. As mentioned, Calhoun was recently convicted, on charges that included conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity and false impersonation of a law enforcement officer.
As I alluded to a little earlier in this piece, warrant scams are pretty popular now. Here are some things to keep in mind: You might wonder how someone could fall for something like this; after all, having been arrested is a big deal, isn’t it? Surely a person who’s been arrested would know if he has a warrant out there somewhere. Not so fast. The scammers have already thought of that, so they typically inform the innocent party that the warrant is for something small; an overdue debt, jury duty that was missed, etc., the kind of thing that might cause you to really think that a warrant of some kind with your name on it might actually be out there. Remember, too, that if you really are jammed up with the police somehow, they’re not going to call you out of the blue…mostly because police don’t call; they will show up to your location in person, or you may receive a certified or otherwise very official piece of mail. Just as is the case with IRS scams, the police, as an official government agency will call you on the phone in only the most unusual of circumstances, and at that, you will likely be expecting the call, because it is part of an ongoing dialogue you know you’re already having with them.
My advice to people, whenever they get an odd call like this, is to simply hang up. It may seem rude, you may even be concerned that you’ll get yourself deeper into trouble, but just do it. Like I said, these agencies don’t call people out of the blue, but many innocent folks, when taken by surprise, will get sucked into the trap if the scammer can keep them on the line. Just hang up. Believe me, if you really are in trouble with the authorities, they’ll make sure you know it, in no uncertain terms.