This is about the lengths to which people will go to scam you.

The other day I came home and found a blinking red light on my answering machine. I listened to two messages from friends, then heard a stern, unfamiliar female voice.

“This is Officer Judy Smith, from the Department of the United (crackle crackle), and this is a final notice from the United States Federal (crackle crackle). The nature and purpose of this call is to inform you that we have received an eagle petition concerning a cat filed against you. Before the case goes to federal claims court or before you get arrested, please call immediately on our hotline: 619-503-1690.”

For a minute, she had me. I’m a wildlife rehabilitator, so I’m always ranting about things like eagles being lead poisoned or songbirds being slaughtered by outdoor and feral cats. I’ve received stacks of hate mail from hunters who use lead bullets (as opposed to copper), outdoor cat owners, etc etc etc. Uh-oh, I thought. I must have really pissed someone off.

But then I listened to it again. The crackling sound was strategically placed. Eagles don’t normally file petitions. And a bona fide officer would have said “before you are arrested,” not “before you get arrested,” which is something that anyone who has ever watched a crime show would know.

This may be old news, but you can put any phone number into your search engine and if it’s one like 619-503-1690, you’ll find a whole page of expletives from people who have experienced something similar. I just found it remarkable that I could be targeted so (species)-specifically.

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Written by Suzie
Suzie Gilbert is a licensed wild bird rehabilitator whose shameful secret is that on one occasion (well … maybe more than one) she has received a little brown job, or a fledgling whatever, and has been completely unable to ID it. Luckily, she has birder friends who will rush to her aid, although she must then suffer their mockery. She runs Flyaway, Inc. out of her home, and has been caring for injured and orphaned wild birds for 20 years. Why go birding when you can just stroll through the house? Honestly, though, she is wildly envious of birders and their trips to exotic locales. She is the author of Flyaway, her bird-rehabbing memoir, and Hawk Hill, a children's book, and is the sole parent of two teenagers. Never a dull moment.