Scam near-victim warns not to bite

Scott Swanson

Local resident Margie Coulter wants local residents to be on guard against scams – after she almost fell for one, she said.

Coulter said she got a phone call last week in which a man from the “Social Security Administration” on the other end told her that her Social Security card had been misused in Texas.

Someone in Texas had gotten her number, opened 20 bank accounts and committed $2 million in fraud, she was told.

The caller told her the agency had “legal enforcements against me” – seven allegations, he said, and that federal agencies were watching her. Also, the caller said, she was on a recorded line that was “tapped.”

“They didn’t want me to tell anyone about it,” she said. “It would mess up their investigation.”

The caller told Coulter she needed to pay $5,000, which she could do by purchasing prepaid Wal-mart gift cards.

“They said something about getting me a new Social Security card within 24 hours, something about signing a legal document.”

When Coulter told him she needed to talk to the police, he told her he had a police officer, “Marchall,” conveniently at hand.

“Marshall” confirmed what the previous caller had told her, so Coulter said she went to her bank and withdrew the money.

“They were coming to arrest me. I was just shaking.”

She was also praying, she said. “I said, ‘Lord, help me.’”

Then, she said, she decided to check with the local police, despite being told she didn’t need to.

“I asked for a “Marshall,” and the dispatcher said there was no one by that name in the department. The dispatcher told me this was a scam.”

Coulter took the money back to the bank.

“God saved me,” she said.

Coulter said she was shaken by the experience.

“It hurts,” she said.

She offered advice for anyone else getting a phone call telling them they are in trouble: “Have a red alert when they tell you not to tell anybody. You need to verify it with your spouse.”