Catonsville man unsettled by request from untrustworthy source

Letter to the editor

October 17, 2011

I would like share with my Catonsville neighbors a recent incident, which occurred at approximately 8:45 p.m. on Oct. 11.

I received a phone call, which came up Baltimore County on my caller ID.

Since I receive occasional robo calls from the county, I answered.

The caller identified himself as a Baltimore County firefighter (one of the good guys from the Frederick Road fire house), collecting donations to supply free smoke detectors and fire safety lectures for elementary school students.

While sounding quite convincing, several points of the conversation seemed strange.

Most glaring was that to prove the call "legitimate," a firefighter would personally collect checks, payable to "Baltimore County Firefighters," on Oct. 12, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

If this were not convenient, I could leave the check in an envelope in my mailbox or taped to the door.

Gold level contributions of $150 were requested; $100 silver; $50 bronze or $25 in the lowest booster slot.

Also, another check of the caller ID indicated a 443-341 exchange.

A call to the Wilkens Police Precinct resulted in the suggestion that I contact the fire department, then the county non-emergency number if a problem existed.

A brief conversation with the fire department dispatcher indicated that this was a scam and the non-emergency number was called. I was told an officer would respond.

About 15 minutes later, I received a call back advising that, since I had no suspect information and there was no crime was committed without an exchange of money, not much could be done.

I still requested an officer, who arrived immediately. The officer was very professional. Mine was the only such complaint received. He wrote down the incoming phone number and left.

Around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, I received another call, indicating Baltimore County, but the final four digits of the number were different. I did not accept the call.

From this incident, I came away with the thought that I may have made a big deal out of something that was not.

However, I believe it is up to the public to spot scams and refrain from getting involved. Apparently, they are difficult to prevent and investigate.

James Rose

Catonsville

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