People like to tell stories about some of the more curious aspects of their work, and FBI agents are no exception. An agent I will call Fred told me of several of his adventures. All of his stories were good, but this is the only one I thought could be printed in a family newspaper.

I was contacted by an attorney I knew in Massachusetts, Fred said. I’d worked with her before. This time it involved a young Massachusetts couple buying a house. The wife got an email that looked like it was coming from her title company. It told her that she had to send a down payment of $182,000 before closing. So the wife followed the instructions and wired their life savings to the bank account given in the email.

Later in the day their title company called and asked for the money. The wife called their lawyer and their lawyer called me with the particulars, hoping I could straighten things out because the bank was in my area.

I called the bank, identified myself, explained that scammers had conned a couple of innocents, and had deposited the money into Dave so-and-so’s account in their bank. I asked them to freeze the account. I was told, No promises.

I also called Dave, no answer. Sent him a text and email. No answer.

The next day, the Friday before Christmas, I go into my office, get another agent and go to talk with Dave.

Dave’s pickup is in the driveway. I knock on the door. Dave is asleep. We wait for an hour. When he wakes up, Dave comes out.

I introduce myself as an FBI agent and tell him we need his help to keep his bank from sending $182,000 that is in his account to some scammers in Nigeria.

Dave says, “Are you the guy who keeps calling me?”

Yes, Dave. I have called, emailed and sent you text messages.

(At this point I ask Agent Fred if he shows Dave his badge. No. I ask how people know that you are FBI if you don’t show your badge. They just know.)

Dave tells a wonderful story about his girlfriend in the Marines. Although they have never met, Dave is in love with her, she is in love with him and he sent her his bank account numbers so she could send him $10,000 to help him out.

The phony girlfriend sent Dave the Massachusetts couple’s $182,000 instead of $10,000. And Dave is having a very hard time getting his head around all this.

We try to explain about the stolen money and tell him we need to go to his bank and get the stolen money out of his account and back to the kids in Massachusetts.

We get to the bank parking lot and Dave gets out of his car all smiles. Dave says that he talked to his girlfriend’s attorney on the way over and everything is OK.

What’s the attorney’s name? Mr. Smith.

As we were waiting, Mr. Smith called Dave back and Dave said, “It’s Mr. Smith.” So I put it on speaker and when the guy speaking with a foreign accent asked for Dave, I said, “It’s the FBI sitting here with Dave,” and Mr. Smith hangs up.

I handed the phone back to Dave and said, “Does that cover the attorney?”

We go in the bank and wait to talk to a bank employee about returning the money to the Massachusetts kids.

Dave and I finally get called into the bank manager’s office. I had talked to him the day before. I introduced myself and said, “Dave doesn’t want that $182,000 in his account any more. Right, Dave?”

And Dave is like, Noooo.

The manager still said no promises, but he kept making calls.

Did I say that it’s the Friday before Christmas? The office is decorated. The bank manager is wearing a Santa hat and a Christmas sweater covered with electric lights that blink.

He’s making calls – trying to solve this problem. We explain that the money has to be returned today because the kids need the money on Tuesday to close on their house.

It takes a few more calls to people in high places, but the money is finally returned. Dave goes home to look for another online girlfriend with money. The Massachusetts kids are able to buy their house.

Dave expects $10,000 and gets $182,000, the FBI pounds on his door, his bank account is locked and yet he calls the criminals to find out if everything is OK.

Does Dave help you understand how scammers can so easily suck millions out of the U.S. public every year?

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:
www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html


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