Cuyahoga County Scam Squad warns schools after Northeast Ohio teacher lost thousands of dollars to scammers

Sadly, our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad say they’ve taken other similar reports...
Sadly, our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad say they’ve taken other similar reports specifically from educators recently.(WOIO)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 2:32 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga County Scam Squad tells 19 Investigates that scammers are reaching out to Northeast Ohioans at work recently.

In her 22 years working for Strongsville Schools, Lynn Gory never took a phone call quite like the one she did a few weeks ago.

“The man said he was a deputy with the sheriff’s department and that one of our teachers had not shown up for jury duty,” Gory said. “And, he needed to talk to her immediately, because she needed to come downtown. He gave me names of deputies and judges.”

Here's what we're working on for this week: Scammers are targeting people at work in Northeast Ohio. We'll tell you which profession they're going after at the moment in my story Tuesday at 11.

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Monday, May 9, 2022

She says she was skeptical, so she called the teacher he requested down to the office.

Michaela Buckley is in her first year of teaching special education at Surrarrer Elementary.

“I said, ‘This is a joke, right?,’” Buckley said. “I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Buckley called the man back in Gory’s office.

“They said that they needed to call me on my cell phone, and to stay on the phone with them while I drove from here down to the courthouse on West 3rd,” Buckley said.

Thankfully, Gory thought to call police and the courthouse directly.

“They immediately put me to the [Scam Squad] and they said it was a scam,” Gory said. “We told them everything that he said, and they said absolutely do not go that is not the truth.”

Sadly, our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad say they’ve taken other similar reports specifically from educators recently.

“It’s ridiculous,” Buckley said. “It’s not like we are like high income like high social status like anything.”

But, because the message is coming from someone they trust, the school secretary, it makes the information seem more legitimate.

“t was just crazy to me that they called my building and asked specifically for me,” Buckley said.

The Department of Consumer affairs says a teacher in Cleveland got the message handed off to her and ended up losing two thousand dollars to the scam.

Here’s what the Scam Squad wants everyone to remember:

  • Police and courts do not phone people about missed jury duty, nor do they call with arrest threats.
  • Police will never direct you to purchase gift cards, reloadable cards or bitcoin to pay a fine or fee. These are payment methods scammers request.
  • Ignore demands that you leave work to go to the Justice Center. This is a scam ploy to make the scam seem more real. When you’re en route, you’ll be directed to pay a fine or fee instead -- because money is what the scammer is after.

“It bothers me. If the scam artists took the time that they take to makeup the scams and actually just got a job and put it to work they’d be better off. The teachers have enough on their plates,” Gory said. “They don’t need to worry about these kind of things.”

Mrs. Gory did exactly what experts want everyone to, though.

“I’m like, I have a whole career. How is this going to affect me? I was very thankful that Lynn was super cautious, and that she was like this doesn’t sound right. She’s the best,” Buckely said.

Of course if you’ve gotten a call like this at your work., whether you are an educator or not, the scam squad wants to know about it.

You can report suspicious calls at 216-443-SCAM(7226) or on the Scam Squad website.

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