Henriette Schmuhl never thought she’d be the face of the scammed.
After all, the North Aurora woman has a degree in finance and spent most of a long and successful career in corporate credit management.
Yet here she is, at age 74, a year into retirement and weeks after some man calling himself Andrew Hall pretending to be from Homeland Security took more than a quarter-million dollars from her retirement savings, publicly sharing her tale.
It’s a sad story. A disturbing one. And it’s certainly one of caution all of us should pay attention to, even if we think we would never be this gullible.
“If it can happen to me,” says Schmuhl, “it can happen to anyone.”
The story starts on May 18. That’s when “Homeland Security” popped up on Schmuhl’s home phone and she found herself speaking to an “agent” who informed her there was a warrant out for her arrest.
Money laundering. Drug trafficking. Traced to a car in her name in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Which had just enough ring of truth – Schmuhl rented a car in that city years ago while conducting some training classes – to convince her to listen to what he had to say.
The man showed her the arrest warrant, the case number and his badge number through a computer app. He showed her a picture of the car where 21 pounds of cocaine had been confiscated, as well as several bank accounts and IRAs in her name with large deposits of money.
Schmuhl says she “freaked out.” But “Mr. Hall” assured her she seemed…