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911 dispatcher thwarts scam that surprised even police

Lee Ruby prevents an elderly woman from being scammed by a man brazenly trying to use police to help defraud a potential victim.

FALMOUTH, Maine — Lee Ruby, a dispatcher with the Falmouth Police Department, gets more than a dozen calls a day from people, mostly elderly, who may have been the target of a scam. 

"My grandson just called me and said he was in jail, he's stranded needs money," said Ruby of the kinds of scams they see.

Ruby thought he'd heard every scam out there, until last week, when he took a call that surprised him -- and the department.

 "It's definitely a drastic twist to what we usually see," said Ruby.

Ruby received a call from a man who said he was concerned about his grandmother in Falmouth and wanted an officer to go to her house, check on her wellbeing, and let her know her grandson trying to get in touch with her. 

 In other words, the scammer was going to use that visit from the police to convince the woman that he was indeed her grandson. He even knew the real grandson's name and the names of other relatives.

 But Ruby, a 15 year veteran of the department, didn't buy it---because he actually knew the woman this guy was trying to scam. 

"When I started asking him more questions the story just didn't make sense," said Ruby.

"It is bold, it absolutely is," said Falmouth Police Lt. Jeff Pardue who says these scams are only increasing in sophistication.

"I have not personally been a part or witnessed a scam that has looked to inject law enforcement as a corroborating party and that certainly was what was being attempted here," said Pardue.

Pardue is praising Ruby's actions saying if it wasn't for his quick thinking and actions there may have been a different outcome.

"I tip my cap to the dispatcher who fielded that call to be on the spot with those types of questions. To have that great situational awareness and institutional knowledge" said Pardue.

Ruby says this case proves that dispatchers have to be alert and pay close attention to every call. 

"A lot of it isn't just what you're getting but it's making sure everything makes sense and that it does actually add up," said Ruby.

And that means whether you're in law enforcement or not.

"It's incumbent upon us and the public to remain vigilant and protect that information and look at these types of incidents with a curious eye," said Pardue.

According to law enforcement, it's the best way to beat these scammers at their own game.

Click here for more information on where to find information about scams as well as services and support.