Possible Scam Threatens Pay Fine or Jail Time
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids woman recently thought she was headed to jail for a bad check she didn't remember writing. Turns out, authorities think it's a scam designed to scare her into paying a fine that doesn't exist.
Julie Gareau received a call Tuesday from a person claiming to be with “Warrant Services Association.” The caller told Julie she was wanted by authorities for writing a bad check to a cash advance store. They said she needed to pay about $1,500 dollars by 7:30 that night, or face jail time.
The first thing Julie did after taking the call was get in touch with her boyfriend, Rick Veenstra.
"I sent him a text. He was at the school watching a volleyball game and I said 'I am going to jail'," said Julie.
Rick quickly headed home and the two tried to figure things out. They contacted “Warrant Services Association’ again, reaching a man calling himself Jeffery Williams.
"He was telling me she's got a bad check, that they paid off, so now they're collecting the money," said Veenstra.
To prove it Williams emailed the couple a document. It had “Warrant Services Association” at the top, a seal from the Department of State, and an address in Grand Junction, Colorado. It also had Julie's name, address, even her social security number.
"It looked like totally legitimate documentation," said Julie.
Except for one thing, the document listed the bad check coming from a credit union Julie's never used. So, before handing over bank info, the couple called local and Grand Junction police who told them they've never heard of the WSA.
"These are scams. People need to be aware of that. Most agencies will not call you over the phone and collect fees. Usually you have to go through a court process to get those things taken care of," said Kate Porras with the Grand Junction Police Department.
KCRG tried giving Jeffery Williams a call Thursday night. The man who answered refused to give proof he's with the federal government, as his paperwork claimed, or any local authority. When asked if he’s scamming people, he hung up.
In the end, Julie and Rick are frustrated, but also relived this looks to be a hoax. They hope by telling their story scammers won't reach anybody else.
"People need to do some research of their own. Don't just voluntarily send money to people," said Julie.
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