January 27, 2020
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Published Dec. 05, 2018

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My son Mike phoned from California yesterday. He sounded like he had a bad cold, but otherwise himself. He said that he was in jail because while texting he had hit the car in front of him. He was allowed this one phone call. The “attorney on duty” informed me that Mike would be held for three days until my check for $10,000 could be cashed. If I could get the $10,000 in cash, he would send a Brinks truck to pick it up.

My Mike in jail sent me into “save my son at all costs” mode. I phoned the bank to see how I could rustle up that sum. My wonderful banker, Darcy, said, “This smells phony—call your son before all else.” (Of course the attorney said Mike could not receive calls, that his cell phone was confiscated.) Mike answered that he was fine and that this was obviously a scam. But these thieves controlled me via emergency reaction. They count on that. They know what they are doing.

The police said that the only thing that can be done about these scams is to let everyone know. Hence this account. I was suspicious all along, but kept telling myself “but I talked with Mike.” It never occurred to me that it was an impostor.

Michael’s great idea: establish a whole-family code word...a simple but fail-safe ID. I encourage all your readers to get their family code word set. If they get such a scam call, simply ask for the code word. They are sure to hang up. Witness this headline: ”Arizona girl, 11, stops would-be kidnapper by asking for ‘code word,’ police say.”

Think of the damage we could do to these scammers with such a simple tool! Get busy—spread the word.

Joan Pryor