LUBBOCK, Texas — Rhonda Williams, a woman who lives just north of Shallowater, lost $4,000 from a scammer on Monday. The scammer posed as the Lubbock Police Department and told her she had warrants out for her arrest for missing jury duty. They said she needed to pay the fines or else she would go to jail.
EverythingLubbock.com spoke with Williams on Tuesday and she said it was hard not to believe them because they recited a case number and incited fear in her by continually ordering her around and telling her if she didn’t listen, she would be arrested.
“I should have realized that, but he already had me so emotionally charged that my mind was not thinking clearly,” Williams said.
Williams said she usually doesn’t answer unknown callers, but they called her multiple times, and she thought it might be something important. From the moment she answered, she felt stuck and was on the phone with the scammers for nine hours straight.
She said she did not eat breakfast or lunch that day.
“I cried most of the day because I really believed that they were going to put me in jail because he just kept going on and kept going on,” Williams said. “I really thought that I was going to end up in jail.”
The scammers ordered her to use Bitcoins and gift cards to pay them. She said she did what they asked because she was so scared of getting arrested.
Williams said the scammers would not let her talk to anyone else, so she wouldn’t be able to get another’s perspective. She was able to reach her husband over text to meet her in person, however, the scammers were convincing, and he was also overcome with fear. He was willing to do anything to keep her from going to jail.
“My husband finally was getting so irritated. He told [the scammer] ‘Just tell me what I have to do so my wife doesn’t have to go to jail.’”
Lubbock Police Department said unfortunately, these types of scams are pretty common.
“I believe it’s because it works. Folks want to do the right thing. They’re concerned that maybe they’ve messed up or done something wrong and they fear arrest or fine,” LPD Lieutenant Brady Cross said.
Cross said there are a few things to look out for when it comes to scams and one of those things is that LPD will not call to ask for money over the phone. He said if someone receives a call from an unknown number that claims to be the police, it’s important to hang up and call the local department directly to check if the call is real or not.
Williams said looking back, she could see the signs that the call was from a scammer, but it was not easy to see at the time because she was so afraid. She said she wants to share her story and raise awareness so that other people don’t have to go through the same thing.
“I just do not want anybody else to have to go through what I went through,” Williams said.