Local cop nearly scam victim

OKEECHOBEE — Detective Bill Saum is living proof that anyone can be victimized by scammers.

Although the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD) investigator and his wife, Gail, were able to avoid any monetary loss, it was close.

Tuesday, Jan. 31, Gail called her husband at work and told him she had received seven emails. Some stated their purchase order had been confirmed and their order had been shipped. A couple even directed them to sign their purchase agreement.

The emails came from NoReplyatSprint.com.

All of this was very confusing to the couple because they had not ordered anything from Sprint.

Oh, but they had — they just didn’t know it.

“Sprint sent this to me, but I didn’t tell them to. The package was shipped ‘next day’ so they knew when it was going to arrive,” Detective Saum pointed out.

Later that day a United Parcel Service (UPS) truck pulled up to the couple’s home and the driver asked Gail to sign for the package. By looking at the shipping label she was able to determine the package was from Sprint. But since neither she nor her husband had ordered anything from the phone company, she refused to accept the package.

Smart.

The OCPD detective said the package contained three, brand new i-Phone 7 cell phones. Detective Saum estimated their value to be around $2,000.
A quick check of different retail outlets revealed the phones have purchase prices varying from $649 to $937.

If Gail had accepted the package, she and her husband would have been on the hook for the total price of the phones they didn’t order.

So, what’s the scam?

Basically, the scammers send these phones to homes where they believe no one will be home. They depend on the delivery service to just drop off the package then leave. The scammer will then pick up the package and sell the phones on the street for pure profit, while folks like the Saums pay the bill.

“It’s fortunate my wife works at home and watches her emails,” mused Detective Saum.

But, what the scammers didn’t count on is UPS will no longer just drop off a package then leave simply because of this scam, pointed out the OCPD investigator.

After learning what had transpired, Detective Saum went to the local Sprint store where they verified that he and his wife were being scammed.

How the con artists got the couple’s personal information is anyone’s guess.

“Scammers are smart. It’s almost impossible to keep things private any more,” said the detective. “How they got my account number, I have no idea.

I don’t even know my own account number!

“The scary part is, you don’t know if they’re (the bad guys) coming back. They don’t know I’m a cop,” he added.

When he got home that evening, the detective said he went to his neighbors and asked them to keep their eyes open for vehicles pulling up to his home.

“I told my neighbors if they see anyone pull up to my home then pull away, get their tag number because they’re there to pick up the phones,” he said.

The moral of this story is simple: If a package is brought to your home and you didn’t order anything, don’t shout in surprise: “Oh boy! Somebody sent me something!” Because if you accept it, that surprise could turn out to be very expensive and very dangerous.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment