What If?


Recently, I had something so unexpected happen, I was in a state of sheer panic for a couple of hours.

Last Tuesday I was in front of my laptop doing what I do.  The phone rang, and as usual, when I didn’t recognize the number, I ignored the call.  A couple hours later, I happened to look down at the small cordless handset beside me, and saw the tiny amber light blinking, meaning I had a voice mail.

I dialed in, and heard this, “This message is for Donna Everhart.  Ms. Everhart, this is Lieutenant Terrell with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department, Warrants and Records Division.  This is related to a court matter.  Please call me at your earliest convenience.” 

A court matter?  I couldn’t imagine what this was about.  I’d not had any speeding tickets in decades.  It had to be some sort of mistake, so, I called the number thinking I’d fix this pronto.  Ha.

“This is Lt. Terrell.”

“This is Donna Everhart, returning your call.”

“Donna Everhart?”

“Yes.”

“At…”

“Yes.”

“Ms. Everhart, I’m contacting you regarding grand jury selection.  And regarding the two warrants I have for your arrest.”

“What?  Warrants for my arrest?  For what?!?!”

“Ms. Everhart, on March 17th, a letter was sent to you from the Harnett County Superior Court in regards to grand jury selection.  It was expected that you would appear in court on April 14th.  You did not appear in court, and Judge Faircloth has cited you with failure to appear, and these warrants have been issued, and are about to be activated.”

“Wait a minute, that’s impossible!  I never received any letter!”

“Ma’am, okay, you can dispute it, but, I have right here, a copy of the letter which was sent.  And now, Judge Faircloth has approved the activation of the warrants.”

(Needless to say, hyperventilating and freaking out begins.  While I try to wrap my head around this, I demand clarification and answers – as if I have any control.)

“Wait a minute, wait a minute.  This is crazy! This is insane!  I never received any letter!  Are you telling me the courts can just send a letter, and if people don’t appear they can be arrested???”

“Yes ma’am.  If they’ve indicated they are going to show up.”

“What do you mean, ‘indicated they are going to show up?’  I never got any letter, how can I have said that?”

“I have your response here.”

“No, no, you don’t.  There’s been some sort of mistake.”

“Well, ma’am, that’s possible, but right now, I’ve got these warrants and this all needs to get resolved today.  I’m trying to give you an opportunity to complete a ‘conditional attachment’ to take care of this, to avoid, if possible your arrest.”

“Wait.  What?  A what?”

“A conditional attachment.”

“What is that?”

“If you’ll calm down, I’ll explain what you need to do.  But, Ms. Everhart, please be aware, these warrants are in the system for activation, and this may or may not prevent that from happening.”

Needless to say, more hyperventilating and freaking out, and NOW, I’m getting emotional.

Sobs, “Oh God.  I can’t believe this.  There’s a big mistake. This is all a big mistake.”

“Ma’am, I need you to calm down.  I  need to be able to tell you what you need to do.”

More sobbing, “Oh God.  Oh God.”

“Ma’am?”

“What!”

“Are you able to write this down?  The instructions for what you need to do to rectify this?”
Sobbing,  “Yes.  I’ve got a pen.  What do I do.”

“I need you to get an envelope, and address it to Harnett County Superior Court House.  Address is….  Did you get that?”

Still sobbing, “Yes.  But, what’s this for?”

“The receipt that will be issued to you, and what you will send once you pay these fines. Bring cash or check, no credit cards, to the Harnett County Sheriffs department at…ma’am, are you all right?”

“No!  I’m not.  I’m upset!

“Ma’am I need for you to calm down.  I’m just doing my job.”

Still crying, “Okay, all right, but I need to talk to my lawyer.  Something’s wrong.  This doesn’t seem right.”

“Ma’am, you can call your lawyer if you want.  That’s not a problem.  If you do that, I can’t guarantee I can stop the activations.”

“Can’t you give me five minutes?  I’ll call you back in five minutes.”

“Okay.  Five minutes.”

***********************************************

I call my next door neighbor – who just so happens to be the city attorney.  I explain to him as best as I can without having a major meltdown what’s going on.  He asks if the guy wants a credit card number.  Which is what I was on high alert for during the entire conversation.  If he had wanted my credit card, I’d have been all like, “Uh, hell no, and hell no.”

I tell City Attorney he said cash or check only.  I tell CA the address he’s given me of where I need to take it.

CA said, “Well, that IS the sheriff’s department address.  I guess you better go and see what’s going on.”

OH GOD.

***********************************************
I call Lt. Terrell back.
“This is Lt. Terrell.”
“Okay, I can be on my way to the sheriff’s department in 30 minutes.  (as usual, I’m still in my running clothes.  No shower.  I want to take a shower before I go out in public)
“Ms. Everhart, these warrants are about to be activated.  I’m afraid any more delays, and I won’t be able to prevent this.”
“Okay, okay, fine.  I’ll leave now.  Wait, what will paying the fines do?”

“That will allow Judge Faircloth to set a court date.  The matter will not be held in open court, but in chambers, where you’ll be able to dispute the matter.”

“And how much are they?”

“One if $1,498.00 and the other is $998.00 both for the failure to appear.”

I swallow hard, and tell him, “Okay.  I’m on my way.”

“Ma’am, before you come, I need your cell phone number to establish a link with GPS.”

“Uh, okay, why?”

“Like I’ve been saying, these warrants are about to be activated, and I’ll need to have an open line to you in case, between your house and here you’re stopped.  You don’t have to talk to me.  It’s just an open connection, where I can prevent an arrest if they see your vehicle and initiate the arrest.”

“I don’t have a cell phone.  I have OnStar.”

“That’ll work.”

“I’m on my way now.”

“I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”

In the meantime during the last five minutes, my husband has come in, seen the state I’m in.  He only understands the basics which I scribbled down on piece of paper and flipped up for him to see.  *FAILURE TO APPEAR*

He and I go to his truck in silence.

I call Lt. Terrell’s number and it goes to voice mail, which states, “This is the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department Warrants and Records Division.  Leave your name, number and message and someone will call you back.”

I give him my husband’s cell phone, and tell him my husband is bringing me.  I call the number a couple more times while on the way and get vm.

We arrive at the Sheriff’s Department, I go in and up to the glass window where a young woman is sitting.

“I need to see a Lt. Terrell.”

She shakes her head, “There is no Lt. Terrell.  It’s a scam.”

Guess what I do? Yeah.  Boo hoo.  This time in relief.  I have a lily white reputation to maintain, don’t you know.

And…, that’s when my husband starts cussing.  And that’s when we are taken into a REAL Lt.’s office where we file a report.  Turns out I was the third victim in Harnett County, while Wake County (my home county) has something like 400 cases similar to this.

After it was all said and done, I began to play the what if game.  What if he wanted to know where I was (via GPS) so buddies of his could back a truck up and clean us out?  What if he was watching the house?  Saw me leave?  What if he fell in behind me and all along I’m “linked” to his cell phone, and on some stretch of Hwy 421, a car with a blue light in the dash pulls me over?

What if I said, “Oh no, they’re pulling me over, what do I do?  Can’t you stop this?”

What if he played the part and said “Sorry.  I tried to prevent this.  Just go with them, and it will be straightened out.”

What if the call then disconnected and I’m under the impression I AM being arrested.

What if the “sheriff,” came to my window and said, “Ma’am, please step out of the car.  You’re under arrest.”

What if I did as he said, and he put me in the back of his “squad” car and took off?

What if…? 

Thinking beyond that…, well, it’s too scary, too real, it hits too close to home.

What’s the strangest thing to happen to you lately?

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28 Comments

This just happened to me about 20 minutes ago…..scared me to death! I was shaking, nearly about to vomit thinking I was going to jail for something that I had no idea about…..so, I googled the Harris County Warrents Division where they publicly post all warrants in the county….did NOT see my name….I googled some more sites….then I came across this site of yours….THANK YOU, THANK YOU for posting this….what a scam…..THANK YOU DONNA!!!

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    Brenda! OMG. I was just like you…, shaking, scared to death! I should have known better – but he was so convincing. Very authoritative, and seemed to know all the lingo. The sheriff here, where I live said it’s an ongoing and lengthy investigation. Please make sure you report it! Any and all information is of value to local law enforcement. They are trying to shut this down. The “scam” makes no sense, so not sure what these guys (or maybe it’s the same one???) is getting out of it, but, I can only imagine.

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Oh, Donna. What a HORRIBLE thing to go through. I’m thankful you are okay. I hope the sheriff’s office has issued a press release about the scam so that the media can alert your community.

All best.

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    Whew is all I can say, and thank you for your thoughts.

    It was in the paper…so yes, that was covered. The detective is keeping me up to date…every Friday I get a call. They’re on it. They have other agencies involved. I’m happy to know he’s not “local.” Still. It was frightening to think of what the motives might have been.

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Yikes. So glad you’re a heads-up kind of person, Donna, and I hope they catch that asshole. It’s almost like he’s messing with them, don’t you think? By using the real address?

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    That’s exactly what we discussed in the sheriff’s office. I mentioned a disgruntled ex-detective.

    Not only the real address – but there’s a Judge Faircloth to boot, which is why it was all the more believable.

    BUT, more important, how are you? Glad you dropped in. Miss your posts!

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You’ll get over it just keep your eyes open. Like all things it is a good learning experience. In the long run.

My broker had a corporate trip to Beijing and they had to surrender all of their phones, notebooks and laptops to their Hong Kong office before going across.

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    Huh, like they knew what might happen. The sec analyst said the exec laptops were hacked into. Since the Chp 11 proceedings closed out, all laptop hard drives were wiped/destroyed, so, it will forever remain a mystery. Still, strange how after 114 yrs, a company folds under the competition – some of it from a big tech company in China.

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Your job sounds interesting. When I was working in the corporate world, we had offices in Beijing. We also had one in Hong Kong. When my company declared Chp 11, one guy who was a security analyst swore up and down the Chinese stole several patents by figuring out how to get onto some of our top execs laptops, getting their passwords etc. Maybe due to travel to China with laptops? We’ll never know and no one believed him anyway.

I’m glad you dropped by. And I was the VERY last person I expected to ever be caught up in such a thing. It made me feel strange – invaded. I was mugged years ago, while running, and it took me while to get over that too. But, I did.

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It seems a shame that we have to watch out every second these days. I am sorry it happened to you and I hope that is all that falls into you sphere of influence. Next year you might be able to consider yourself lucky that it was the only thing blown your way.

I was in the environmental business for years. By the time I got out you almost couldn’t check an undeveloped site with funding something you wished you didn’t. I found two meth labs, four pot fields and two bodies. My hobby was in building paddle craft. One I built ended up being really fast. I started to market it and had five different Nigerian scams pointed at me. A company bought it and since I have been pushing boats to other companies. I help them set up production of it. That is why I was again in China recently. You really don’t want to know the scams over there. I don’t take a computer there. I use the hotel’s computers. I gave the last one I took over to a USF computer security team. They haven’t figured out what it caught yet but have three patents on some of the trash.

It is so nice to be able to respond on a nice quiet blog. I hope the vommeters miss you.

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That is absolutely terrifying! Glad to hear you’re okay.

I would’ve thought the same thing re the credit card – if they had wanted that then no way, definite scam. But it sounded so official…. Shudder.

Liked by 1 person

    That’s what the detective said. That’s a snippet I didn’t include where a detective came by the house and recorded this guy’s message from my voice mail. Then, when I took him through the scenario (like you read) they were astounded at the details and the time he took. They don’t think he was just wasting someone’s time…

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Whoa. You are SO lucky your husband got home and then went with you. SO lucky you told the scammer he was going to be with you. Those that prey on women don’t usually like having to deal with a bloke as well.

What a horrible experience to go through! Very glad you kept safe.

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    Thank you! I’m very glad too…sometimes when this kind of stuff happens, we don’t think about the choices we make till after the fact – which is why I wrote this “what if” post. And the biggest WHAT IF I should have added – what if my husband hadn’t come home and I took off alone? Gulp.

    Liked by 1 person

That is so scary! And he even gave the actual address of the right office for you to go to. So sorry you had this happen to you.

I’ve had so many strange things happen lately it’s hard to even list them. Maybe i should write an essay! 😉

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    It totally gives me the CREEPS now. Yes, he had all of the proper addresses. The sheriff (haha the REAL guys) think he was in law enforcement at one time -or – he’s really done his homework.

    WRITE THEM! I want to read!!! 🙂

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That is so messed up. I am glad your husband ended up being with you and you didn’t have that cell for them. Ugh…but definitely write it!

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    It is messed up, and I’m actually thinking the reason he didn’t contact me or pick up the phone again was b/c the next time I called, I said, “My husband is bringing me.”

    Write it I will!

    Liked by 1 person

Nothing strange lately but years ago my mother got a call from a guy who said he found my father’s wallet, in NJ, (my father was in NJ on business), and because the guy said he was driving through CT that night ,he would drop it off about midnight. (Lonely farmhouse in the middle of nowhere). She called my dad, he said he was in his motel room and had his wallet with him. She called the police.

They said:

Leave your home in fifteen minutes. It was 8PM and police would be watching from the woods to see she got to her car safely. She came to stay with me a few miles away.
Lock the doors, leave the lights on and let the dog roam the house, they said.
The police staked out the house all night long. No one approached the house.
BUT
Two weeks late the house was broken into and two weeks after that, another break in. Shortly after that they sold the house and moved. It was their dream home, a farmhouse in the country. Moral of the story.
No one is immune.

So glad you are okay and I agree with Colin, what an awesome opening for a story. Had me on pins and needles.

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    Well, they say “write what you know.” This would be a case of that, I guess. I know I was scared witless at the possibility of TWO bogus arrest warrants ruining my life.

    That other situation with your mom was WEIRD.

    We’ve had our share of criminal activity, but it’s the unknown – what did this guy REALLY want? Was he looking to get a lone female trapped somehow? Can we say EEEK?

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I’m glad you were able to get through this safely.

Jesus, that’s terrifyingly smart, so very detailed and well thought out (well, ish. What would they have done with your check made out to the Sheriff’s department? What good is kidnapping people? That seems like such a 1930’s thing to do).

I haven’t had anything too weird lately, though I did get a juror summons (about a week after another coworker did). The date was not a good date for me, though, and apparently you can go online now to reschedule those things! They don’t even ask for a reason.

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    Phew, me too.

    And yes, it was detailed. And it was almost like he was trying to confuse me at times when I would question what he meant. And that’s what the “real” sheriff’s office personnel couldn’t figure out, and what I didn’t understand. Although…if I’d told him I was bringing cash…that’s a whole other ball game.

    Well, that is a coincidence – an authentic summons. Bonus to be able to go online.

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Oh heavens! This sounds like the big scam with the predators going after grandparents and saying they are holding their grand-kid in a Tijuana jail over spring break and that they have to wire their bail immediately!
As for the pull-over thing…I’ve had more than one officer tell me, that if something looks fishy, pull over, keep rolling slowly, and call 911 and ask whether this is legit or not. We’ve had lots of those incidents in our area too.
I AM SO GLAD you’re OK.
And in all honesty…if you’re the kind of messy ugly crier that I am…they probably would have let you go anyway, just for the sake of their own nerves ❤

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OK, let me assemble my thoughts in the correct order:

1) I’m glad you’re okay, Donna, and that hubby was able to help.
2) That’s a pretty lousy scam. I hope they catch the jerk that’s doing this.
3) This would be an interesting opening for a novel.

I’m not going to say which thought ACTUALLY came first… let’s just say it wasn’t the one I SHOULD have been thinking first… 🙂

Seriously, I’m glad everything turned out okay. Better a scam than huge fines and/or jail time.

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    Don’t feel bad about thinking of it as the beginning of a novel FIRST, b/c those were my thoughts exactly. And now I feel compelled to write it at some point.

    Can you believe this, though? Better a scam that didn’t play out like the last WHAT IF. Yikes. I can see the headlines. Local Dunn Woman Goes Missing.

    Gah.

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