Scammer to deputy: ‘Why do you want to be this way?’

Steve Nash steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com
Deputy Jim Cornelius

Seated at deputy Jim Cornelius’ desk in the Law Enforcement Center, the 60-year-old Zephyr man looked at the caller ID on his cell phone as it rang.

“It’s the guy, it’s the guy!” the man told Cornelius.

“Well, let me speak to him,” Cornelius said. Cornelius answered the phone, identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy and said he was taking a report for fraud.

“What do you mean?” the caller replied. It’s not a fraud.”

Those were among the details Cornelius provided about his conversation with the man, which occurred Tuesday when the man told Cornelius he thought he’d been scammed.

Law enforcement officials have repeatedly urged the public to be wary of such calls, which are almost certain to be scams, and to refrain from sending money.

According to Cornelius’ written report:

The man was at a family gathering in Boerne on Saturday when his cell phone rang. The caller told him he’d won $2.5 million, a new Mercedes car and other items in a sweepstake. The caller said the man needed to send a money to cover the cost of transferring the sweepstake winnings.

The Zephyr man went to a Walmart in Boerne, bought a MoneyGram for $290 and sent it to a person in South Carolina.

The man received another call saying he now needed to send $550 for a legal stamp in order process the winnings. The man realized he might be a scam victim and went to the sheriff’s office, where Cornelius took a report.

That’s when the man’s phone lit up with a call.

“I talked to the scammer, and he swore up and down it was legit, and why would I tell the guy sitting in my office it wasn’t good,” Cornelius said. “He said there was no scam, that I was mistaken, that it was a legit deal.”

Cornelius asked the caller why he couldn’t just take the fees out of the $2.5 million the Zephyr man had supposedly won.

“Why do you want to be this way?” the caller asked Cornelius.

The Zephyr man apparently changed his mind and began believing once again that he’d won the money, Cornelius said. Cornelius finished taking the report and left to run an errand, and when he returned, the man was in the parking lot talking with two other deputies.

Cornelius said he understood that the man had gone to Walmart and bought another check. Cornelius said the last time he saw the man, he was waiting at the Law Enforcement Center for a UPS truck to drive up with a trailer carrying his new Mercedes.

In other incidents:

• A Dallas man remains in the Brown County Jail on a Dallas County warrant for aggravated robbery.

Darren Taylor, 28, who was arrested one week ago in Brownwood, is charged in connection with a Fort Worth bank robbery, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said.

Sheriff’s deputies assisted federal deputy marshals in arresting Taylor on April 2 at an apartment in the 2000 block of 2800 block of Southside, Grubbs said. Taylor was staying in the apartment with a woman and children, the sheriff said.

“U.S. marshals had called me about a week prior to this,” Grubbs said. “They came down and we set up surveillance.”

Deputies and deputy marshals were able to verify that Taylor was alone in the apartment and tried unsuccessfully to get him to come to the door, Grubbs said. Deputy marshals breached the door and Taylor was arrested without incident.

• Brownwood police stopped a motorist for speeding in the 400 block of C.C. Woodson and arrested Benjamin Torrez, 37, of Brownwood, on a charge of DWI second offense.

• Police took a report on the theft of two puppies from a yard in the 1400 block of Third. Police learned the puppies were taken by three children while their mothers were getting their hair done at a nearby beauty parlor.

• Police took multiple reports on gas drive-offs from the Allsup’s convenience store in the 3400 block of U.S. Highway 377 South.

Others booked into the Brown County Jail between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday were:

Eric Babcock, 33, Bangs, driving with invalid license, possession of drug paraphernalia.

Thomas Duke, 21, Austin, traffic warrants, failure to appear.

Yolanda Ford, 40, Bangs, traffic warrant, failure to appear.

Jose Rodriguez, 35, Denton, driving with invalid license.

Stevie Rose, 25, Brownwood, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance.

Charlotte Story, 40, Bangs, fraudulent use of identifying information.