The longtime drummer of Grammy Award-winning Christian rock band, Petra, recently fell victim to a scheme that scammed him and his wife out of over $20,000. According to authorities in Nashville, Tenn., about 40 others have also fallen victim to this new scam.
Former Petra drummer Louie Weaver, who is now a drum teacher, and his wife, Penny, a Nashville realtor, had a total of $20,700 drained from their checking account in the elaborate phone scam, according to WSMV.
Weaver, 72, reportedly received a call from someone claiming to be with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department and asking for bail money, the outlet reported. The caller cited the exact amount of recent loans the couple had received as part of the COVID-19-related Paycheck Protection Program, which Weaver thought had been forgiven.
A neighbor of Weaver’s, Bart Smith, who is familiar with details of the scheme, cited how the scammers made fake documents that appeared to be court warrants. “It is really sick, because they are not just fishing for anything,” said Smith. “They are targeting. They are spearfishing these people by trying to get an emotion.”
Weaver subsequently followed the caller’s specific directions and made multiple withdrawals totaling $20,700 from their bank account, leaving the couple with a balance of five dollars, according to an incident summary posted on GiveSendGo.
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“Once the final transfer was completed, Weaver had been told they would be given a check to get the money back,” WSMV reported. “Instead, the people hung up and disconnected the phone number they had used to call and text.”
The Weavers reported the incident to authorities and an investigation is ongoing, the local report stated.
Smith subsequently started a crowdfunding page on GiveSendGo to support the couple.
On Wednesday, Petra posted on their Facebook page: “Prayers are appreciated for Louie Weaver. He fell victim to a scam targeting business owners in Tennessee.”
For more than two decades, Weaver played drums in Petra, leaving in 2003. The band re-formed and continues to tour and record albums, with the original members reuniting for a reunion album in 2010. The band’s post also linked to the crowdfunding page and added: “We have vetted this and confirmed it is legitimate. Louie knows about it and will receive any funds given.”
The homepage of the official Nashville Police Department website features a “scam alert” that describes the scheme. “These types of calls may appear to be from the Nashville Police Department due to spoofing,” authorities state. “If you receive a call and are unsure of the caller’s identity, it’s perfectly acceptable to decline and not provide any information.”
As of publication time, the crowdfunding page for Weaver has raised $2,155 of the $5,000 goal.
Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his family live in the Washington, D.C. area.