A Gillette UPS worker on Tuesday stopped a 78-year-old woman from sending $5,000 in cash to a con artist who convinced her someone had stolen her identity.
She walked into the UPS Store in Gillette, asked to overnight a package and had the package insured for $5,000, said Troy Castleberry, Gillette UPS franchise owner.
Red flags popped up in his head.
“What was a little suspicious to us was the fact (the recipient) wanted it overnighted,” Castleberry told Cowboy State Daily. “On top of the amount she was being scammed it also cost her $240 to ship the package.”
Castleberry said the store’s workers caught the irregular order just in time: the UPS driver picking up packages for next-day air was arriving.
Castleberry called the woman to ask her questions, and tell her he was concerned about her package.
At first she said it contained a book. Then she said she didn’t want to say what was in the box.
“I just told her right then, ‘Look … it is illegal to send cash in the UPS mail anyway; (for) anything that would be legitimate, they would never have you send cash,’” said Castleberry.
Get All Your Money Out
The con artist had badgered the woman for days until he convinced her that her identity had been stolen, and she needed to get her money out of the bank and send it elsewhere, Bryan Colvard, Weston County Sheriff, told Cowboy State Daily.
Because the woman was from Newcastle, the Weston County Sheriff’s Office took over the case.
Once she learned that the person telling her to send off all her money was lying to her about her identity having been stolen, the woman was relieved, said Castleberry.
“You could just hear the weight being lifted off of her shoulders,” he said.
Castleberry pulled the package back before the overnight-air gatherer could get it. He gave the woman a refund on her shipment, and he called the police so they could look into the scam.
The police later revealed that the woman had been trying to send $5,000 cash in the mail, which Castleberry noted is illegal regardless of the carrier.
“It’s one thing to send a $20 bill illegally to your grandchild for their birthday,” he said, adding that if someone is demanding large amounts of cash by mail, it’s probably a scam.
Colvard was grateful for the UPS workers’ vigilance.
“Thank God that UPS said, ‘Woah, wait a minute,’” said Colvard.
This was his first time seeing a carrier intervene in suspicious circumstances, he added, though bank employees often do it.
But frauds are becoming more common.
“It’s freaking scary because it’s happening to (older) people all the time,” said Colvard.
Another concerning element: Though UPS flags known fraud addresses, recipients can use their shipment’s tracking number to reroute a package from a legitimate address to one associated with fraud, said Colvard.
UPS will return packages sent to a known fraud address, Castleberry had told Cowboy State Daily.
Colvard said he’s concerned that the change option makes frauds likelier — and harder to investigate.
The case remains under investigation, he said, adding that his deputy was slated to conduct a follow-up interview with the woman Wednesday evening.