In Which I Get Caught Up In Some Illegal Activity

Ken AshfordCrime, Personal1 Comment

Okay, all you Seventh Sense readers (both of you).  I'm in the midst of a mystery/enigma/scam, so please weigh in with your thoughts.

Last night I received a call from what sounded like an Hispanic teenage girl.  The first words out of her mouth were, "Who is this?"

I said, "I'm Ken.  Who is this?"

She said, "I'm Gina.  Why you send me chick?"

I almost hung up, thinking it was a wrong number, drunk caller, whatever.  But I stayed on, trying to figure out what was going on.  After a few minutes, I was able to discern that Gina was telling me that I had sent her a check — a check for $2,900 (or therebouts) — and she wanted to know why.

Fortunately, Gina's mom got on the phone.  Her English was more coherent, and she told me the whole story.

That afternoon, her 16 year old daughter Gina, received a FedEx package.  Inside the package was a check made out to Gina for $2900 and change.  The check, I was told, came from me and it was made out to Gina.

"What makes you think it came from me?" I asked.

"Because your name, address, and phone number is on the FedEx label as the sender" she said.  "That's how we got your phone number to call you."

"Okay.  Then you tell me my name and address." 

And she did.

Now, at the point I am very concerned.  Maybe this is a scam and I should hang up.  But maybe someone got my checkbook and was writing checks.  So I started asking about the check.

"No, no, no," she said.  "The check is not yours.  It's from South Motors Infiniti.  It says so on the check.  But the Fedex package, which was sent on April 14, has you as the sender."

She went on to explain that she was able to determine, via the Internet, that South Motors Infiniti was a car dealership located in Miami, Florida.  Both she and Gina lived in Chicago, and had no dealings with South Motors Infiniti in Miami.  I assured her that I had no connection to South Motors Infiniti in Miami either, nor did I have any connection to her daughter in Chicago.

At this point, I still wasn't sure whether this was a scam.  But clearly, this woman I was talking to wasn't very trustful of me either.  We were both being cagy of each other.  Neither one of us wanted to give out more information than necessary.  She asked if I worked at a car dealership, or worked in Miami, and I said no, I was an attorney in North Carolina.  But other than that, she never asked me for any personal information, I never offered any personal information, and I never asked her for any.

She went on to explain that she had called South Motors Infiniti in Miami, and they claimed to know nothing about it.  They told her that the check was probably some sort of fraud.  But — at least the way she conveyed it to me — they didn't seem too concerned about it.  Which is odd since it was their check from (presumably) their bank account.

I inquired about the Fedex label bearing my name as sender, but there wasn't much to say.  It wasn't handwritten; it was computerized.  I wondered aloud if the Fedex label couldn't have been a computer glitch, but even that doesn't make sense.  I haven't sent anything via Fedex in years.  And Gina's mom pointed out that a Fedex computer glitch still doesn't explain the check.

Anyway, Gina's mom said she was going to send me a copy of the Fedex label and a copy of the check (since she had my address anyway), and said she was going to contact the FBI (which I said was a good idea).

And that's basically the mystery.

Now, to be honest, I presume my name, address, and phone number is public information, accessible by a rudimentary Google search.  And no private information (my bank account number, etc) appears to have been compromised.  So I can't really claim this is "identity theft" (but I am taking precautions anyway).

But if this is a scam or some illegal activity — and tend to think it is – I can't figure out what it is, or who is the victim, or how/why my name is involved.  Any thoughts?