Technology to the extreme [Editorial]

For those who live by the credo to do everything in moderation, our world and our culture have missed the boat. Technology, the role it plays, its impact on our lives and our addiction to it roared way past moderation years ago.

Smartphones have carried us the latest mile down Technology Road to ubiquity. Where that road ends none of us can see, though there are many, many people out there trying to design the next new thing in technology.

Unfortunately, there are just as many people, if not more, out there trying to figure ways to use technology for evil, especially to scam people out of their hard-earned money.

The latest was the recent attempt by criminals, pretending to have kidnapped his wife, to get ransom from a Bel Air attorney they had called on his cell phone, while he was working on a case in the Circuit Courthouse. Thankfully, it was a hoax that the lawyer handled almost perfectly, keeping the scammers on the call and walking to get help from police, who verified the lawyer's wife was safe.

"I didn't think it was a scam, because I really thought that was [my wife]," J. Paul Krawczyk, the lawyer, said later. "I couldn't calm her down, she was just crying hysterically."

But it was another case of a pretty well established scam.

"The scam is – [scammers] don't let you get off the phone," Sgt. Jim Lockard, of the Bel Air Police Department, said. "They don't want you to hang up because you may try to contact police" or the person they claim to have taken hostage.

Krawczyk did the right thing, staying on the phone with the scammers and walking down the stairs to the security station at the courthouse.

The security deputy got the lawyer's information and Bel Air Police, whose jurisdiction it was, responded immediately and was able to contact the wife and verify that she was safe. The incident lasted 15-20 minutes.

"That's a long time to be on the phone, if you think your wife's kidnapped," Lockard said.

Bel Air Police are sto;; investigating, but it's a difficult crime to solve because the technology used to commit the crime helps hide the perpetrators.

Lockard said he has seen phone numbers used in tech crimes traced to the Dominican Republic, England, "all over the place."

There are two lessons from this incident: Scammers will stop at nothing to get you to give them your money. And, as you keep the scammers on line, somehow contact the police so they can help.

Krawzyk said the police "were amazing. Every officer knew what to do. They were unbelievable, calm, cool, collected."

Anyone faced with a similar situation can only hope they have such help.

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