I was sitting at my desk Sunday afternoon working on some research when my cell phone rang. The number that came up was 407-539-4401, which I didn’t recognize. I don’t usually answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, preferring to let them go to voicemail and checking who they are from later at my convenience, but for some reason I answered this one, using my Bluetooth headset.
Male Caller: Hello. I’m an EMT with Florida Hospital and we’re at the scene of a car accident with an unconscious adult female with no ID on her and no one else in the vehicle. This number was listed as an emergency contact on her phone, can you tell me who I’m speaking to, please?
Now, I should mention that I have heard about this type of call, so I didn’t panic as someone might usually do when hearing such news. Chances are most of us know a female who could conceivably be driving and could possibly be involved in an accident. The natural instinct to help someone we may possibly know overrides our barrier to identifying ourselves to someone we don’t know and we answer without thinking it through. That is human nature and scum like this capitalize on it.
In Orlando, there are really only three adult females who would have my number listed as an emergency contact, my wife, daughter and stepdaughter. I knew my wife was at the Lake Eola Farmers Market and would not be driving around, so as I asked the caller the logical question…
Me: You mean to tell me there’s no name attached to the emergency contact number? I’ve never heard of such a thing.
…at the same time I was texting both my adult daughter and adult stepdaughter asking them if they were at home.
At the same time I received a reply from my daughter saying she was at home and why was I asking, lol. I texted I would tell her later and asked the caller,
Me: What kind of car is she driving?
Male caller: It’s a dark, late model car, but I’m not sure what the make or model is. Do you know this victim, sir?
My stepdaughter has a dark car but it’s definitely not a late model. And I can’t imagine her driving somewhere on a Sunday without my granddaughter in the car.
Me: Where is the accident?
Male caller: At Orange Avenue and Princeton. Sir, your name?
I still haven’t heard back from my stepdaughter, but I know this call is SO fishy I could can it and call it tuna.
Me: I don’t know who that could be, and you don’t either so go try another scam.
Male caller: I must have a wrong number. (And he hung up)
I called my wife and, just to be extra-cautious, asked her if she had talked to her daughter in the last hour, and told her about the call. My stepdaughter called me a few minutes later. She had been napping and missed my text.
At first I thought this was a simple identity theft call hoping to social engineer information out of me, but when I “Googled” the phone number 407-539-4401 it turns out this is a scam designed to get you to pay for “treatment” with a credit card and then threatening to shoot the “victim” in the head if you don’t comply. There’s a whole webpage of people that have fallen victim to this monstrous kind of call.
I just want to urge everyone who gets a call like this to stop, take a breath, don’t give out information and YOU be the one to ask questions. Very few people drive without SOME form of ID; most people who put emergency contact information on their cell phone include the name and relationship to that contact (spouse, sibling, parent, child, friend, etc.), and if someone is rushing you or pressing you to do or say something the odds are they mean no good to come from it, at least no good to you.