COLUMBIA - Boone County Museum and Galleries reported a phone call scam on Friday that involves five museums and has already affected three people.
Curator Jenifer Flink reported Jonathan "Nathan" Williams to be the culprit. In his phone calls, Williams claimed to be an antiquities dealer for Arts Vintage International.
Williams used Boone County Museum and Galleries' address to build credibility. He even gave a false website: artsvintage.com.
President Dick Otto of Boone County Museum and Galleries said Williams used the company's name to question people about their antiques.
"People need to know that we would never approach them on such a topic," Otto said. "If they want to approach us, we'd be happy to talk to them about local history and Boone County antiques, but we would never, ever be calling you direct."
Otto said antiques typically come from the elderly in the Columbia area, but the scam can happen to anyone. He urged residents to call the museum if they receive a suspicious phone call.
"I do not believe we have seen a direct impact upon it," Otto said. "But if someone reports to be from the Boone County Historical society, I would tell you to give us a call, come out and see us."
Otto said he finds the scam to be a compliment about the organization.
"It's truly an indirect compliment that they believe we are credible enough that they can scheme somebody with our credibility," Otto said.
Williams also used a second address from the Natural History Museum of Utah. Additionally, he claimed on various "about us" pages that he has served as a consultant for the following museums:
- Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth Texas
- C.M. Russell Museum, Montana
- Clarke Historical Museum, Eureka California
If you receive a phone call from anyone about your antiques, you should call the Boone County Museum and Galleries at 573-443-8936, contact the Columbia Police Department at 875-TIPS and the Columbia Better Business Bureau at 573-888-8965.