Scam involved bogus injury
March 24, 2006
For 45 minutes Bob Lindner thought his life had taken a tragic turn for the worse. Then the caller asked for $3,600.
Lindner was at his South Lake Tahoe home last week when he received a call from a person telling him his daughter was involved in gruesome car accident in Santa Barbara.
It was the beginning of a sordid scam.
The caller, who said he was in law enforcement and very “polished” in that sector’s vocabulary, asked Lindner if he had any children. Lindner said he has two daughters, one in Santa Barbara and another in Walnut Creek.
The caller responded the daughter in Santa Barbara was side-swiped by a semi truck and hit her head on the windshield hard enough that she was unconscious but still breathing.
“So I freak out,” Lindner said.
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A “dispatcher” was brought on the phone, Lindner said, who “mentions something about Western Union.” Lindner was told he needed to wire $3,600 to an insurance agent to cover the cost of a helicopter transport for his daughter.
Lindner started asking questions but admitted he was close to traveling to Round Hill to wire the money. Lindner thought the caller knew he was perhaps onto him and shortly ended the call, saying qualities of the car crash victim, such as having a child, didn’t match Lindner’s daughter.
Lindner realized it was a scam and contacted police. A real-life dispatcher told him his was the second complaint on the scam given to the department that day, March 20.
“It’s a traumatic experience … it was the worst 45 minutes of my life,” he said.
In other news:
— A Sierra-at-Tahoe skier who became lost March 19 broke into a cabin to warm up but left his contact information for the owner, an El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy reported.
Renee Rodriguez, 31, of El Dorado Hills, called officials from his cell phone. The deputy guessed Rodriguez was northwest of West Bowl and contacted the resort’s ski patrol, which dispatched to rescuers.
After a few hours Rodriguez stumbled upon Highway 50. Before he found the thoroughfare, Rodriguez told the deputy he spotted a small cabin in the Sayles tract. “He broke open a small window pane and gained entry into the cabin,” the deputy reported. “After warming up, Rodriguez left his name, home address and phone number for the cabin owner.”