About three days ago, Harker Heights Kiwanis Club member Joe C. Boyer’s primary alert system, his two dogs, sounded off.
Boyer opened his front door, pistol in hand, and asked a man if he saw his no soliciting sign.
The man showed him a piece of paper with Boyer’s name on it and told him old shingles taken from his house were dumped on the man’s property, and Boyer owed him money.
“He said, ‘I’m a former policeman, would you put that pistol down,’” Boyer said. “I said, ‘No I will not. I get nervous as hell when someone’s out here trying to scam me; you better get off my property now.’”
Harker Heights Kiwanis Club members heard from private investigator Scott Lorenz on Tuesday at the Texas Homebuilders Association about how technology is increasing the number of scams similar to Boyer’s.
Common scams in 2013 included a Microsoft technician scam in which a caller tells someone they need to access their computer; the FBI Moneypak scam is a virus that pops up in an ad on the user’s computer telling them they have committed a crime and are fined by the FBI and need to use a Moneypak to pay the fine; another scam accesses user’s email contact lists and makes it appear a friend is stranded in another country and needs money, Lorenz said.
All scams involve the victim’s active participation in which the scammer asks for personal information, account numbers or to send money.
“If it sounds too good, if it sounds too bad and makes you feel guilty and makes you feel sorry, if you didn’t ask for it, if you’ve never been there, if you (have to) supply information, supply a check, if you must deposit a check, if you’re not asked to tell anyone, if you can’t hear your friend’s voice, it’s a scam,” Lorenz said.
Most scams use fear and greed mixed with technology, he said.
Lorenz, who is a licensed police officer, adjunct professor at Central Texas College and reserve deputy, also spoke about how technology has helped law enforcement authorities solve cases.
Privacy is protected by the Fourth Amendment, and law enforcement authorities typically need a search warrant to search computers or cellphones, he said.
In citing cases where cellphones have helped law enforcement, Lorenz said one in Harker Heights involved a suspect allegedly selling methamphetamines.
The suspect took a photo of himself with an assault rifle and a stack of hundred dollar bills on a table, Lorenz said.
“That one photograph on his phone automatically makes the case,” he said.
Another case in Copperas Cove involved three individuals shot at a rap contest. Lorenz said when authorities detained one of the suspects, the suspect sent text messages to another telling him to delete his messages and that he was in the back of a police car.
He deleted his messages 40 seconds later, which Lorenz was able to retrieve after authorities got a search warrant for his phone.
“The phone isn’t used to commit the crime, but evidence of the crime is on the phone,” Lorez said. “And this technological world that we live in, especially with young people, they do everything with the phone.”