Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Unaware Cab Driver Used As Crook's Pawn
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Cindy St. Clair
Edited by Aaron Colborn
Photography by David Yost
(KUTV) Bob Lowell has been driving taxi-cabs for 12 years and in that time he says there have been some strange requests.
"We're asked to do all kinds of unique things,” he said.
But Ute Cab Dispatcher Manager Michael Norvell says one thing that is not unique is being asked to pick up an elderly person.
“[Ute Cab] has contracts with a lot of hospitals [and] senior transportation in Salt Lake City," Michael said.
So when Michael got a call from someone overseas asking that a cab driver be sent to pick up a man and take that man to the doctor, Michael didn't think much of it and he dispatched Bob to the Kearns home.
Bob says that when he arrived, the international caller instructed him to honk the horn.
“I blew the horn, nobody came out," Bob said.
The caller told Bob to go to the door and knock hard because the man inside was hard of hearing and may be in the back of the home.
“Keep knocking on the door,” Bob says he was told. “I know he's there, I know he's there."
Bob says he could hear someone inside but no one came to the door. Minutes later, the police showed up wanting to know who Bob was and what he was doing at the home. Bob says he explained he was a cab driver and was dispatched to the home.
Later, the police informed Bob that the man with whom he had been speaking on the phone was a scammer from Jamaica. That scammer was using Bob to coerce the people inside the home to send money to Jamaica.
Bob says he also met an elderly woman who had been hiding inside the home.
“She was petrified,” Bob said. “She thought I was somebody there to hurt her."
These scammers from Jamaica and other parts of the world will say just about anything to try and get money sent to them. As Get Gephardt learned firsthand when we got one scammer on the phone, that includes threatening to come to your home.
"I am gonna **** you up,” a Jamaican scammer who identified himself as Noel Bush said after Get Gephardt confronted him by phone that we knew he was a scammer. “Listen to me, and I'm serious, I am gonna **** you up. I know where you live."
As for Bob, he says he's mad he was used as a thug.
“She's a little old lady. She was scared. She was petrified.”
Both he and Michael hope that by telling this story he can help prevent others from being intimidated into paying an international crook.
"I don't want our staff to participate in it,” Michael said. “I want to warn people that it's happening."
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)