So often, crooks rip people off for big bucks. But that didn’t happen this time.
In this case, it looked like $10,000 had been lost for good to con men. A senior citizen got a phone call, felt threatened and sent off an overnight package with big bucks. But that desperate family got a big surprise after calling Westlake police.
“Whoever set her up for all of this told her that they’re going to come to our house in the morning to get her paperwork and everything else,” a relative of the victim told police.
Then Westlake dispatcher Dan Udrija got involved. He does not work as a detective. But he saw the call had come in, and he followed the money. It had been sent through a shipping service to Houston.
Udrija’s thought was, “If we have a chance let’s get it back,” he told the I-Team.
The I-Team obtained recordings of calls the dispatcher made while investigating. He ended up calling the location in Houston where the package had been sent.
“Got a question. I’m calling from the Westlake, Ohio, police department. Do you guys take UPS packages there?” he asked.
At first, it seemed like a dead end.
A man who’d answered the phone replied, “Let me just ask the manager, real quick.”
The dispatcher had tracked the package with all of that money to an auto parts store in Texas. It didn’t seem to make sense, but it turned out the store handles packages.
But did this package get delivered, then picked up? Or was it still there?
The man who had answered the phone said, “We don’t have the package, sir.”
Yet Udrija didn’t give up.
“You know, it said an Eli signed for it. Can I talk to him, real quick?” he asked.
Incredibly, the store manager had accepted the package, and he still had it.
“I don’t know when it came in, but it’s here right now,” the manager said on the phone.
Another recording shows the Westlake police dispatcher then calling Houston police.
“You need an officer assist at this location? What’s going on?” a Houston police call-taker said.
Udrija arranged for Houston police to go and get the package from the auto parts store. The senior citizen got all of her money back.
“If this was my family that this happened to, I would hope there would be somebody out there that would say, ‘Hey, I don’t want that to happen,'” Udrija told the I-Team.
Yet another recording shows the reaction of the family of the victim of the scam.
“Awesome. Oh my God. You guys, thank you so much. Oh my gosh, I can’t even,” a woman told Udrija.
Westlake police gave the dispatcher a letter of commendation.
In the end, the bad guys didn’t get caught. But, getting the victim her money back gave Udrija a feeling that’s priceless.
“The ‘wow’ factor was being able to deliver that package to her and open it with her at the front window of the police department,” he said.