Cara O’Conner, from Holladay, Utah, has never had a run-in with the law before. So when she suddenly received a voicemail from a missed call late August, she didn’t know how to react to the news.
The police were after her.
“This is Sgt. Scott Smith with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office,” the voicemail said, according to KSTU. “We’re looking to get in contact with Cara O’Conner.”
O’Conner explained that she was informed she had “violated a court order by not appearing for jury duty,” and that there were two warrants out for her arrest.
She was initially skeptical about the whole thing, but the calls kept coming—and not just to her.
The caller phoned O’Conner’s family members looking for her, even calling her brother-in-law.
O’Conner was alarmed by the amount of personal information the caller had, and she began to suspect this might be the real deal.
“They had my birthdate, they had my previous address, they knew my husband’s name,” she told KSTU.
“Having never broke the law before, it sounded really scary,” she added.
“I thought, ‘You know what—I just want to clear this up.'”
She agreed to comply with Sgt. Smith, who informed her that she owed two fines totaling $990. He told her to pay up immediately.
But he also had a very specific instruction for the payment. Withdraw the money from the bank, then go to a Rite Aid and buy treasury vouchers.
O’Conner complied. She headed straight for the nearest Rite Aid location and picked up treasury vouchers from the kiosk.
But on the cashier line, an employee noticed what she was purchasing and stopped her.
“You’re being scammed.”
“The second you walk out of here they’re going to ask you for those numbers,'” O’Conner recalled the worker saying, according to KSTU.
The savvy convenience store worker knew about the scam and was luckily there to intervene before O’Conner handed nearly a thousand dollars to a con artist.
O’Conner called up the so-called “Sgt. Smith” to call him out on the scheme, and he immediately hung up.
Then she called the real police to report the crime, and they, too, had seen it all before.
“This is a scam,” the police said, according to KSTU.
“I’ve had 16 of these calls today.”
Local police told KSTU that the scam had been spreading throughout the area, and they advised looking out for one big red flag: Real police will never ask for money over the phone.
O’Conner had never heard anything like it—she was shocked by how elaborate and involved the scam was.
She knew firsthand how easily someone might fall for the hoax, and she hopes that by sharing the story, she’ll spread awareness and prevent other people from falling into the same trap…because there might not always be a Rite Aid employee around to save you.