Gaston NC Dec 6 2017 Inmates at the Gaston County Jail beware: the voice on the other end of the phone isn’t always who he says he is.
That’s according to arrest warrants and Carl Byrd, a licensed bail bondsman who says his name and information were used to try to get money from inmates’ families.
Crystal Dawn Massey conspired in that effort from inside the jail itself, according to arrest warrants. The 36-year-old Dallas woman — booked in August for multiple charges including carrying a concealed weapon — told other inmates she could get them out of jail if they called Byrd Dog Bail Bonding, a real business on Bessemer City Road in Gastonia.
But the number Massey allegedly had inmates call actually belonged to Hoyt Edward Woody Jr., a man with no affiliation to Byrd or his business.
“I’m very very upset,” Byrd said Monday morning. “I don’t know how to express in words how I feel about it. How can people do that, to hurt a man, a small businessman out here like that?”
It’s unclear if the reported scheme actually worked to defraud people out of their money. But it was almost successful on Rodney Jeter, whose girlfriend is currently in jail under $25,000 bond.
Jeter says he spoke to the man on the phone and agreed to meet him and give him $750 in exchange for his girlfriend’s freedom. Though he isn’t a stranger to jail himself, Jeter says he believed the man because Massey told his girlfriend that Woody was her uncle.
“When you got a loved one in jail, it’s about doing anything you can do to get them out of jail,” Jeter said. “It upsets me. I’ve been locked up several times, and I don’t think it’s right what he did.”
Jeter met the man at a CashPoints ATM near the jail. Woody was holding some kind of scanner, Jeter said, but it didn’t work with his bank card. The two went their separate paths without any money changing hands.
Jeter told his girlfriend about the encounter, who then sought out the real Carl Byrd. Byrd brought the issue to the attention of the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office.
Gastonia Police then filed the charges against Massey on Friday.
Byrd, who says his business’s mantra is helping good people in bad times, says there are steps inmates’ families can take to avoid such a scam.
First, they can ask for a bondsman’s license. The state also lists each agent by name and county on the court system’s website. They can also agree to meet at a bondsman’s business, though that can become complicated if the bonding agent is working out of his house, he said.
Either way, don’t meet in dark parking lots, Byrd said.
″(They’re) lucky the CashPoints did not work for them,” Byrd said.
Byrd, a bondsman for the last 11 years, said this is the first time he’s ever heard of something like this happening in Gaston County.
Police hadn’t arrested Woody as of Monday morning.
Massey, now facing new charges of misdemeanor conspiracy to impersonate a licensed bondsman and felony attempting to obtain property by false pretense, had her bond increase to $10,000.