Elderly San Diego couple were targets of a scam
It was a warm, pleasant morning in San Diego, about 11 a.m. last October, when Peggy got an upsetting phone call.
The man on the phone said he was Sergeant Perry with the California Highway Patrol. The sergeant told Peggy that her grandson had been in a traffic collision and he was being held in custody because his car insurance was lapsed. The sergeant put her grandson on the phone just briefly, but he was crying so much that Peggy couldn’t really communicate with her grandson.
The sergeant told Peggy that she should send money via Western Union to the owner of the other vehicle, and then her grandson could be released with no police record. Peggy was given an address in New York, to which she was instructed to send $2,400.
Peggy’s husband Norman helpfully went to a Western Union office to send the money the same day, October 23, 2012. But there were difficulties completing the transaction, so husband Norman returned home. The elderly couple was able to call back Sergeant Perry because his telephone number was captured in their “caller ID.”
Sergeant Perry then directed Norman to send the money through a nearby Walmart, using a service called “MoneyGram.” The husband went to a Walmart on Murphy Canyon Road and arranged the money transfer. But two hours later, Sergeant Perry phoned again and said there was a problem with the vehicle owner getting the money because of “an identification issue.” The Sergeant told Norman to call a certain telephone number to instruct a person there to “release” the money.
About this time, husband Norman got the idea to phone his grandson’s wife. She told grandpa Norman that his grandson was safe at home. Norman immediately went to Walmart and cancelled the money transfer and got his money refunded to him.
A genuine California Highway Patrol officer, named Jason Shelter, is investigating the attempted fraud. Officer Jason Shelter, who has been with the CHP since 2000, requested a search warrant to track the MoneyGram transaction and obtain security video surveillance at the transaction locations, to learn the identity of the fraudster.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski signed the search warrant order December 18, 2012.
Image: Investigator Jason Shelter said a fraudster impersonated a CHP officer. Photo Nick Morris.