The Hard Lesson I learned When I (Almost) Got Swindled by a Scary Phone Scammer

hands holding cell phone and credit card

Can you say “Con Man”?

First of all, I’ll tell you that I’m pretty suspicious of most emails and fishy voicemails. Secondly, this criminal kept me on the phone for about an hour, and it was a very scary hour. This is an ugly story to tell; mostly because I preach to my clients about never clicking on anything or paying attention to anyone asking for money. I can't believe I almost fell for it.

Some Stats

The number of people that deal with fraud might astound you. The Federal Trade Commission shows that 2.6 million consumers reported fraud of some sort in 2023, losing $10 Billion to these criminals, that dollar figure is with a B. The category that most fraud cases fell into was investment scams, followed closely by imposter scams, the latter being the case for me. The FTC says to make matters worse, digital tools (AI) are simply helping them get better at it.

My Story

This is about a short con, but a deep fake (short as in he tried to con me in only 1 or 2 phone calls, and deep because of the document he had ready, the fake LinkedIn profile, and the extensive back story he had ready).

On a Friday in mid-March, it was just another work day at my home office. I had missed a phone call that came in about 3 pm and when I listened to the voicemail about 3:30, I called back and left a voicemail. The person’s message said that he was an investigator with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department (I live in Washoe Co, NV). His voicemail gave his name, phone number and said he needed me to call back regarding an open investigation. I’m a notary, so I thought, Hmmm, I’ll try to be helpful. Of course, I still wanted to know if this guy was for real. He sounded so matter-of-fact in his voicemail, but you never know. So I googled his name, and sure enough he did show up on LinkedIn, as an investigator working for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office ( - this profile is safe to look at but keep in mind that it is fake, and I don't condone fake profiles). It had just enough info (Experience and Skills sections looked real), to not send up any red flags. As of the time of this writing 3 months later, the profile is still active.

Two hours later, I get another call and pick up. The area code is local, so seemed legit. He informs me he is following up on the fact that I have two warrants for my arrest due to a failure-to-appear and a contempt-of-court for not showing up at court on March 11, even after receiving a subpoena. The subpoena was basically a promise to appear I supposedly received on February 6, that was delivered to my house – he had my full name, cell phone number and full address. I knew none of this was true but I thought it just had to be some weird clerical error and we just needed to work out how this happened. I KNEW I hadn’t signed a promise to appear on Feb 6 because I was in South Carolina dealing with family matters on that day. He told me he had proof of a signature and offered to send the document to me. It came via this email: - I didn’t notice the – all I saw at that moment was – it’s amazing how the brain focuses only on the scary part when one is getting upset. I’ve included the image of this so-called ‘signed subpoena’ below. Once again, I didn’t look at the odd parts that were blacked out, or looked like whiteout had been applied (I myself blacked out my address at the top, my real address showed there) – I only looked at my signature – again, because I was getting upset. But I thought, Aha! That is not my signature! That looks like one of those digital-generated ones and told him that. He said that as far as the court system is concerned, it was signed, and the court had expected me to provide expert testimony on March 11. Me and 8 others, 9 in total, had been subpoenaed and all of us hadn’t shown up that day. Casey said he was running all 9 of us through the same process. I said “Expert testimony on what??”. Casey said he didn’t know; it wasn’t in the file, that knowing wasn't in his purview. Yes, that's how he talked, like a real criminal investigator; lots of big words. He told me the subpoena was for me to be screened as a possible expert witness for a case involving a minor. All he knew, he claimed, was that it involved the security of a child, and I was part of the problem in holding up the trial (somehow knowing THAT was in his purview).

I was on the phone for an hour with this clown. He had an answer for everything. Everything I asked, he had a ready answer for it. He was very patient and spoke in great detail. He had a vaguely Southern accent. He answered every question with an answer that made sense. At one point, I asked how did I know this was real, that he might be a scammer. He said everybody asked that and explained he was only doing his job; neatly side-stepping the question. He provided Citation Reference numbers. The Failure-to-Appear was FTA-18USC-3146, and the Contempt-of-Court was 18USC-402. I add these numbers in the hope that someone googles them, and realizes he is a fake. He explains that because of the Failure-to-Appear, the assigned judge didn't believe I would just show up now, so was demanding I file a surety bond equal to the amounts of the fines (the FTA ($500) and contempt of court ($1000) - $1540 (40 was for some admin fee). He even gave me the assigned judge’s name, Tammy Riggs. I don’t know if this was a made-up name, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled it from court records. I remember thinking the fine amounts made sense. Scammers would surely ask for more money than that, right. It was amazing, when I think back on it now, how he dripped out the information in such a slow methodical way; making it feel so natural.

At this point, my head was swimming with information. I’m feeling overwhelmed, and didn’t know what to do. And I kept thinking, This can’t be real, I think this is phishing fraud. But there was too much doubt. He had answers for everything. He would sprinkle little details like, “There were 9 subpoena no-shows on March 11, which was a record number of no-shows”. It made it all seem more real, that he'd add these little details. He repeatedly said he didn't have anything to do with the court system but somehow knew that they'd pay me $275/hour as an expert witness (I didn't ask for this info, he volunteered it). Like he thought I’d jump at the chance to be an expert witness now.

I kept offering to go down to court and get everything straightened out on Monday (it was a Friday night), but he said No, he couldn’t do that because he’d been given a Mobile-Contact Order, and was required to stay on the line with me for supervision until I paid the surety bond via a third party bonding retailer. He said I’d also need to do a handwriting analysis to prove I didn’t sign the subpoena. He said I had to do all of this or my other option was a civil procedure in court with my attorney, which would offer amnesty due to my clean record.

He wanted me to post the bond that night and then come to the Washoe Co Sheriff's dept the next day (on a Saturday) to do the handwriting analysis to prove I wasn't the one who signed the promise to appear. He had the address on the tip of his tongue, which I looked up while I was on the phone with him (the local office in Reno, it was correct). He said he’d need to stay on the phone with me while I drove to a ‘bonding retailer’ (I think this meant a bail bondsman). When I really started balking about driving around to buy this cash bond, he offered to check with the Department of Treasury Finance Department (who were just downstairs) about making a mobile payment – I might be allowed this because I didn't have a criminal record, was being ‘compliant’, and had been offered the "civil" procedure to clear the two warrants (rather than 'turn myself in, get arrested, wait with my attorney' before seeing a judge). He was very convincing.

I kept wanting to hang up on him, but there was this niggle of "what if this is real?" At one point, he said if I hung up, he'd have no choice but to send a sheriff over to arrest me. Eventually, after pretending to get a bunch of texts from the finance dept, he said they approved my using CashApp to pay the fines. I actually downloaded it and set it up (OMG). Thank God the payment didn't go through. The CashApp ID was $EZPAYUSDOT (surely his fake account). When the payment wouldn’t go through, he was back to saying I could use the bond services at the Sparks Walmart Super Center (about 20 minutes from my house). He told me he'd need my odometer readings from before and after, and give me a verbal sobriety test. He would need to stay on the phone with me the whole time I drove to the Walmart – because if I got pulled over for anything, I had a warrant out for my arrest, and he would be able to talk to the police officer. Wow, he thought of everything, didn’t he?

I started to tell him I was going to hang up and deal with it on Monday. That I didn’t believe him. That his story didn’t completely add up. He told me patiently and quietly that I didn’t want to do that, that he was trying to help me. About this time, I decided to do a Google search on “washoe county sheriff's department phone scam investigation”. And what pops up? See image of my search results below.

Jeepers. Why didn’t I think to do this at the beginning? But that’s what they do. They prey on people, make them feel guilt (the minor’s security), fear (Warrants! Arrests!). They get you so upset that you don’t think clearly. You miss things you normally wouldn’t.

So I tell this clown, hey I just did a search on washoe county sheriff’s……and before I finish the sentence, he hangs up on me. Well! Thanks for wasting an hour of my life, and ALMOST getting my money. And scaring me.

I filed an online police report that night, and then called the police the next day asking them to shut this idiot down. I told them I had his phone number, fake email address and his fake LinkedIn profile, and couldn’t they find his IP address? But she said No, they don’t have digital resources like researching IP addresses. She asked if I had a physical address for him? No, I didn’t. She did ask how much money he’d taken from me, and when I said none, she said Good for you. But there “wasn’t anything they could do without a physical address”, and it’s low priority if I didn’t actually pay him money.

The Lesson

But this is what I learned. If someone is asking you for money, ALWAYS do a Google search on what they are telling you. Do a Google search on your smartphone while you’re talking if you don’t have another device available to you at that moment. You might have to tweak the search words to find what you need but chances are it’s been posted about and you’ll find it. I also found out that while police officers, or sheriff departments, may CALL you, they would never ask for money. I’ve tagged my post with this emotional terrorist’s name and phone number. Hopefully if someone searches these, they may find my story and learn about these imposters. I hope that by placing his email and fake CashApp ID within my post doesn’t negatively affect it; such as Google thinking I AM the scammer. I’ll have to keep checking my stats.

I later found out that versions of this scam are going on all over the country.

Live and learn. Be aware - It could happen to anyone.

Check out the photos below (fake subpoena and my search that finally unmasked him).

Got questions? Contact me! 
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This is the subpoena I received from the scammer to
"prove" I received a Notice to Appear - FAKE!


This is a conglomeration of the search results I found when I finally thought to search what he was telling me.
My suspicions finally got the better of me.

search results about his scam

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