This evening Anne Marie got a call from a wireless phone from Boston. The gentleman on the other end of the line asked for "a Conlin", and started asking questions about the Conlin family. Anne Marie (clever girl) knew to hand me the phone.
i greeted the gent and he asked if we had family from a certain city. i replied that i wasn't going to answer that question. He pressed and i replied "Sorry, but i don't give information like that over the phone."
"Why not?" he asked, somewhat concerned. "Who'd want to know?"
"Well, i could give you a few hundred reasons why i wouldn't give someone info about my family." i replied helpfully.
"Look, i'm a lawyer from Boston…"
"… and i'm a rocket scientist from Florida. i have no way to prove what you're saying as you have no way to prove what i'm saying." (Frankly, if this guy was a lawyer, he's a pretty bad one.)
"i'm just trying to find my sister…" and then he gave me a rather long winded story about himself, his sister and looking for family. i listened politely, informed him that i could offer no help, and then offered a few additional things that might help him out.
He yelled at me to calm down. i know i can speak quickly, but i was absolutely calm. Heck, i was in complete control of the situation and happy to assist in any manner that would not compromise myself or my family. There's lots of Conlins in Michigan, if he was estranged from his folks, chances are someone up there might have more history he could chase down.
Eventually he hung up, and i did a bit of research on my own. i couldn't find any lawyer in current practice or retired in Boston that matched his name. The cellphone number he provided is less than a year old (some idiot posted it on Facebook about a year ago) and there's scant information that matched any other part of his story. (e.g. high school or college records that match his or his "sister's" name for the approximate years they might have attended. Hell, he even managed to miss on the name of the high school he was supposed to have attended.) For what it's worth, i'm chalking it up as a scammer.
See, that's the thing about personal information. If my wife wasn't married to a paranoid info junkie like me, she'd probably happily give this guy all sorts of information about my family, that he could then use to commit all sorts of dastardly things.
People's first action is to try and help. It's someone looking for family, meaning they might be a long lost great cousin. As the monkey said, "Why would anyone care who wasn't family?"
All that aside, even if he was legit, trying to find his sister by cold calling people in California might explain why the family would have nothing more to do with him.