CHESTERFIELD, Va. --Nathan Fishell and his friends were out celebrating a monumental milestone: his 21st birthday.
But a scam artist posing as law enforcement nearly ruined the festivities when he threatened to send Nathan to jail if he didn't pay up.
“Well, Greg, I was absolutely terrified,” says Fishell. “I thought it was someone calling wishing me a ‘Happy Birthday’”.
Nathan got a call Thursday from some identifying himself as a Chesterfield Sheriff’s Deputy.
“He told me I missed jury duty and that I faced a class three misdemeanor which means I had an active warrant for his arrest,” says Nathan.
The Goochland native, who studies at Emory and Henry in southwest Virginia was floored and scared.“The threat of going to jail was absolutely terrified. I didn’t want to ruin my career while I was in college,” says Nathan.
“The threat of going to jail was absolutely terrified. I didn’t want to ruin my career while I was in college,” says Nathan.
Nathan initially thought the call was legitimate. The person on the line had the same name as an actual deputy.
But a red flag went up when the man demanded he pay a $1,500 fine and wire him the money. When Nathan refused, the supposed deputy turned ugly.
“He threatened me and called me all sorts of explicit names and he threatened to kill my family and he said my address where I live,” says Nathan.
Chesterfield’s Sherriff’s Office confirms what Nathan thought: the phone call is a scam.
Three other victims in the Richmond area received similar calls recently. Two victims actually paid money thinking they were going to jail.
“I hate to say it but it was like pond scum,” says Nathan’s mother, Susan.
Susan Fishell says someone who preys on innocent people especially during the holidays need to be prosecuted.
“Of course it is anger. Anger because it is an easy crime that they are doing it,” says Fishell.
As for Nathan, his birthday wish is that the crook gets caught and no one else becomes a victim.
“Just be careful. Be sure not to give out personal information out over the phone,” says Nathan. “That is the biggest thing that helped me out in my situation.”
Chesterfield's Sheriff Karl Leonard says that this scam artist is facing serious charges if he is caught.
What this person is doing amounts to extortion which is a class five felony. He would also face up to 10 years in prison.