RICHMOND, Texas - Investigators in Fort Bend County are trying to get the word out about a popular scheme going on that's costing residents thousands of dollars. Someone is calling unsuspecting people on the phone and telling them there is a warrant out for their arrest and it's going to cost them to take care of it.
Bridget Wilson got one of those calls.
"He told me I had a warrant out for my arrest," Wilson said. "I said, 'For what?' and he said 'Speeding.' I was going 16 mph over the sped limit and a camera had take a picture."
Wilson said the man on the other of the line told her he was with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office and that she owed more than $1,400. He also told her he'd settle for a prepaid gift card.
"$500 would be for the failure to appear, $450 for the citation, $500 for the warrant processing fee," Wilson said. "He told me I had three hours to come up with the money, otherwise there would be a warrant out for my arrest and he would come and pick me up."
Wilson said the man sounded legitimate and she believed every word he said.
"I did. I was terrified, I was so scared," she said.
In an effort to start collecting the money she thought she owed, Wilson made a few phone calls, including to the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office. Wilson quickly learned the call she had received was not real and the man on the other end was trying to steal from her.
Sheriff Troy Nehls got involved and wanted to see if his deputies could catch this man. Nehls said this has been an ongoing problem lately.
"There are many, many cases like this taking place in and around the Houston area," Nehls said.
He also told Local 2 that many victims are falling for it and end up wiring money to these criminals.
But in this particular case, investigators set up a sting and tried to catch the crook in the act. They instructed Wilson to go to Walgreens and pretend to buy several prepaid gift cards, then meet the man and make the exchange.
"We followed Ms. Wilson through this routine and we were hoping this individual would show up," Nehls said.
He didn't. Nehls said it's possible the man who is orchestrating the crime doesn't even live in the area.
"It's a very difficult crime to solve but we are working to address these concerns," he said.
Wilson said she wants others to know this is happening and not to fall for it. She said the man was so believable and he did his homework.
"This guy seemed to be pretty intelligent," Nehls said. "He knew the judge's name and he had Ms. Wilson believing this was really, really happening."
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