FBTX ~ A 71-year-old Farmers Branch resident is breathing a sigh of relief after Farmers Branch Police investigators intercepted a financial scam in progress, saving her nearly $80,000.
After scouring local records for names and numbers of local seniors, scammers called Polly (real name withheld for her protection). He identified himself as United States Attorney Ryan Patrick, working for the Social Security Office and U.S. Department of the Treasury. The scammers did their homework in case Polly checked as there actually is a U.S. Attorney named Ryan Patrick working in Texas.
The fake Patrick told Polly that a vehicle, stopped at the border, was determined to be linked to drug trafficking and to her social security number. In order to clear up the issue, fake Patrick told Polly that she would need to buy $8,000 in gift cards and give them the numbers over the phone. As the fake Patrick was convincing, Polly complied.
The scammer then told Polly that she would need to wire money following instructions emailed to her from an official-looking “U.S. Treasury” address that listed an elderly Dallas woman as beneficiary. The cash would go to the Dallas woman, fake Patrick stated. The scammer was also scamming the Dallas lady and was going to use her bank account to “wash” the transaction of Polly’s wire transfer of $79,568.
Not yet done, the fake Patrick contacted Polly and told her to go buy another $10,000 in gift cards. However, this time, she contacted Farmers Branch Police.
Specializing in financial crimes, Farmers Branch Police Detective Willborn tracked down the Dallas victim and the $79,568 that had been wired to her account. He contacted the bank and obtained a search warrant to recover the money. By law, a property hearing had to be held, after which Polly was awarded her money back.
“The scammer worked hard to exploit these two ladies and even told them not to cooperate with us as, according to the scammer, we were illegitimately conducting a counter investigation,” said Farmers Branch Police Chief David Hale. “The excellent news is that Detective Willborn recovered our resident’s sizable chunk of money.
“Unfortunately, the scammer is unidentified and has probably moved on to his next mark. These scammers are extremely difficult to identify and prosecute.”