Woman turns the tables on scammer

OKEECHOBEE — When you try to scam a member of law enforcement it’s normally not going to end well — just ask James, whoever that may be.

Michele Bell, the public information officer at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), decided earlier this month to sell a Riverside desk for $750. So, on Oct. 1 she put it on craigslist.

“I was immediately contacted by a man who said his name was James,” said Mrs. Bell. “He said he would send me some extra money to cover the shipping.”

She knew this was a scam, so she decided to have some fun with James.

James authored a text and asked Mrs. Bell if the desk was still available? To which she replied, “Yes, it’s available.”

It should also be mentioned that she was contacted by someone claiming to be in the U.S. military and currently deployed.

“What would he be needing with a desk?” mused the wife of OCSO Captain Gary Bell.

Despite his alleged interest, she ignored him.

“I can only play one game at a time,” she laughed.

James, being the honest scammer that he is, stood true to his word and sent Mrs. Bell a check for $2,650. It didn’t take long to realize the check was hastily put together, especially since the account numbers are on an angle as are the company’s name of StockCross Financial Services, Inc.

Scammer's check

Scammer’s check

Here’s another interesting point — Mrs. Bell saved all of the man’s texts and both phone numbers used by the scammer. So, when those texts are quoted here they are exactly as she received them.

Anyway, at 3:14 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, James sent Mrs. Bell another text: “Thanks for the response, This is James, I’m okay with the price & condition, i plan to send the money in a bank check and USPS it to you, then I will arrange for a pick up after check cleared at your bank… I’ll need your Name and Delivery Address for the check to be issue out to, i await your response ASAP.”

Continuing to play along, she gave James a bogus mailing address.

But, by now, Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on Florida and Mrs. Bell didn’t have time to mess with James even though he kept badgering her to deposit her $2,650 check.

“For the THIRD TIME Florida is preparing for a hurricane. This is low priority!!!!” she told James, as her patience was obviously wearing thin.
Not phased by Matthew’s threat to the Sunshine State, James shot back: “I dont understand what your try to say?”

“Florida is under a state of emergency!” replied Mrs. Bell.

“Okay So, what is going on about the check now?” asked James.

That did it. Mrs. Bell replied on Oct. 7: “The check is sitting in the envelope and will remain there until after the freaking hurricane!”

Finally, he got the message — sort of. On Oct. 8 he sent her another text asking if she had deposited the check?

“Ur check is no good,” she replied, adding that her bank had deemed the check to be bogus.

At last the text messaging stopped. Until Thursday, Oct. 20, that is.

“Hello, I received a confirmation message now that the check has already delivered to you, have you deposit the check yet?” asked James.

Mrs. Bell decided she had played this game long enough and sent James one last text.

“I told you on your other phone number the check is no good, so you go to Walmart and you get some money grams and you can call me with the numbers on them and then I’ll send you the furniture.”

Oddly enough, as of late Friday afternoon James had not contacted her.

“This is the type of stuff people fall for, especially if they are having a hard time financially,” she offered.

But, what about the desk?

“It’s still for sale,” Mrs. Bell replied.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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