By “Sam” . . . It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in my hometown. I was making a bite to eat and watching the basketball game on TV before heading to my mom and dad’s house to eat like I do almost every Sunday evening when my cell phone rang. Normally, if it’s a number I am unfamiliar, with I do not answer, but today I did because I was expecting a call and the number calling was from my same area code. I answered and they asked for me by my full name. I hesitated and then asked who was calling. The caller said he was a Sargent Longo or something similar from the XXX Police Department and said he needed to speak with me and was glad he had reached me on the phone before something bad happened. I kinda chuckled and said I already know this is a scam and cut him off in mid-sentence. The man on the other end of the line kept a stern voice and said this is no laughing matter and that he had 2 warrants out for my arrest. As soon as he finished speaking, I told him if the police department had warrants for my arrest, I would already be in jail. The caller proceeded to say some other things, most of which I couldn’t hear because the connection was starting to break up. I looked at my phone and saw the number was actually from a town 50 miles away. I told the caller that he wasn’t even calling from the town where I lived, laughed, and hung up. I figured that was that and proceeded to watch the game on TV.
A few minutes later, I get another call from the same number. At first I was not going to answer it, but part of me wanted to see what he was going to say. I answered and the same man on the other end said sorry, he was in a bad service area. As he kept trying to speak, I kept cutting him off with comments like, “If you are going to pretend you are calling from here, make sure the number reflects where you are calling from and not just the area code.” He finally said, “I guess I am going to have to file you as non- compliant!” I could tell I was starting to get to him by the sound of anger in his voice. He said I had two outstanding warrants, one for failure to appear and one for not providing a DNA sample. He also claimed to have sent me numerous letters in the mail telling me to come in to the police department for DNA submission. I chuckled again and said they already have my DNA, in fact they took it when I initially was arrested and again when I went to prison. He said it must have been tampered with or lost or not processed. I knew that wasn’t the case because as soon as they get your DNA, it goes into a database online and that’s the end of story. Certainly, if there had been a problem, they would have corrected that long ago while I was in prison or before. The reception was getting so bad I decided to end the call and told him not to call me back. I’m not sure if he was able to hear me, but I never got a call back. I really wanted him to finish the call, but we did not even make it to the part where he asks for prepaid gift or phone cards to cover the court costs which somehow would prevent me from going to jail.
At first I wasn’t bothered dealing with these events other than my blood pressure being a little higher than it should have been. A few minutes later I felt a surge of anger come over me because I started thinking about our collective struggles with many of us having a hard time making ends meet or just getting through the day trying to deal with all the restrictions put on us. I thought to myself, here is this person trying to use the registry to exploit me and people like me by feeding on our fears. Honestly, especially after going through all I have gone through, I really do not like seeing people kicked while they are down regardless of their circumstance. I felt certain this guy that just called me has on more than one occasion stolen money from someone on the registry who was less knowledgeable or overreacting to their worst fears. The guy that called me certainly called at a great time. It was a Sunday, and I had no way to get in touch with anyone. The non-emergency police number wasn’t available on Sundays, and my probation officer had his cell off that Sunday.
In the end, even though I was certain I was right and the call was a scam, a tiny part of me was still wondering what if all this were true. Since I couldn’t put it to rest, it hung around in the back of my mind until the following day when I heard back from my probation officer that everything was fine. My PO did state that our group of people (those on the registry serving probation/parole) have been getting hit pretty hard with this scam over the last few weeks, so it seems pretty widespread. I decided to write this because I wanted to do everything I could do to make sure no one gets scammed or allows a call like I had to disrupt what was otherwise a nice relaxing day. Even though I didn’t let the caller scam me, I still stressed over the “what if” in the back of my mind until I heard back from my PO, so in a way he still got to me. It is my hope that this story will find at least one person out there and save them from being scammed or from being stressed.