Bogus cops, bombs, & scam attempt
BETHLEHEM – When Mary Leigh Montesano picked up her phone one afternoon last month, the voice at the other end identified himself as a Bethlehem police officer.
“I said are you calling about the tree (that fell) on my house?” Montesano said, “He said, “No, we’re calling because someone is using your credit card. Do you know what hydrochloric acid is?” I said no, and he said well, it’s being shipped to your house and it’s used to make bombs. I said, “What?”
Montesano says she couldn’t believe it and asked the gentleman to elaborate.
“He said you’re a victim of identity theft and we need to clear your name,” Montesano recalled, “We’re going to have to deal with the FBI in Washington so I’ll be transferring you there periodically to talk to the officer there because we need to clear your name or you’ll be arrested.”
It was at that point when a person claiming to be an FBI agent asked Montesano for bank account information and her social security number.
“He said we have to clear your name,” she said, “We need your social security number. I go I’m not supposed to give my social security number out ever. He said, “Don’t you understand, we’re the police, we’re trying to help you.”
Montesano says the men on the phone were actually treating her rather kindly.
“I was getting very anxious and he said breathe, calm down, have a glass of water,” she stated.
That’s when Montesano hung up the phone and called her boyfriend.
“I’m going to be arrested,” she told him, “They’re buying all these things to create bombs and it’s all in my name.”
A short time later, when the scammers called back, a real Bethlehem police officer had arrived at Montesano’s house to pick up the phone. The moment the scammer found out he was talking to a real police is the moment the bomb making scam blew up in his face.
“I think the end game, and I don’t know if it’s possible, was to take the social security number and take my money and sent it some place else to a different country or any where,” Montesano suspected.
Montesano closed out her existing bank accounts and opened new ones. She also ripped up her credit cards and got new ones. It was an inconvenience, she acknowledges, but she’s glad it didn’t turn into a financial nightmare.