Macon County Chronicle

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LPD Detective Jason Roberts is pictured with boxes of merchandise involved in a scam. (Photo by D. Gregory)

As scams continue to filter across the United States, Detective Jason Roberts, of the Lafayette Police Department, has uncovered more victims after a phone call from a man in Austin, Texas. He wants to warn everybody to beware of anything unusual that immediately sends up a red flag!

Detective Jason Roberts received a call from a man in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, January 22, telling him that he was one of the many victims of the Target Security Breach. “This thing is huge,” said Roberts, “and it seems to be part of a much broader scam.”

“The Texas man told me that he had purchases on his credit card bill that he didn’t make and that some of the packages came to an address here in Lafayette,” the Detective said. “After I listened to his story I decided to go to the location that was listed on his card, along with this female name, that I won’t disclose.”

Roberts went to the residence inside the Lafayette city limits and the person’s name he had was definitely living there. “I spoke to this individual and she did have these packages,” he said. “Two were in her car and another one was inside the house. Her story was that she was doing this for a friend.”

According to this female, she met this guy on the Christian Mingle web site and they started e-mailing and texting back and forth. She says he told her his name and that he is a 47-year-old American who used to live in Colorado, used to be an airline pilot, but was now working for a mining company in the Ukraine. “She told me that was how the relationship started and began building,” the detective said. “She was very vulnerable and he was saying all the right things to her – anything from scriptures in the Bible to how blessed they were to actually meet and a lot of other stuff. She became a victim herself.”

The detective says that this man told her that some of his co-workers, who were also miners in the Ukraine, wanted to know if it would be alright if they had some deliveries sent to her house. “She said yes,” Roberts continued. “So they sent these packages to her house and she was re-packaging them and condensing them into one big box, to help them with shipping costs. She was suppose to send them, but at the time according to her, she didn’t know where. She told me that she just needed some money to send them. Everything she got she still has.”

“Later on she called me and said she had just received another package. I told her not to open it and just leave it in the box and I would see if I could return it.”

According to Detective Roberts he found out that she had sent this male individual $3,000 by Western Union to an address in the Ukraine. “Because of her vulnerability he got access to her bank account. She sent him money a second time and after that he wiped out her account.”

“These people prey on vulnerability,” added Roberts, “and if someone comes along and says the right things, things perhaps you have always wanted to hear: Bam! Hook, Line and Sinker!”
Roberts at first thought the female subject was the one involved in the crime, but he now realizes that she is an even bigger victim than the guy from Texas who called him.

He explained to the woman what she had gotten herself involved in and what he was doing. “She was still having conversations with this man for me, so I could get the address where the packages were suppose to be sent. But the address I obtained is in the Ukraine.
”I have involved the FBI, because it it goes international it is beyond me,” explained the Detective. “I expect many more cases like this coming up.”

Detective Roberts says that this is a huge warning for people, especially the elderly to watch out for scams. Don’t accept any kind of money or check, don’t put money on a green dot card. Beware of anything that you have to send.”
The detective said this is the same concept that recently happened at Cathy’s Florist, only this is on a much bigger scale. This money is sent overseas rather than the US because it can’t be tracked.

“I want to get this out to everybody, please beware because we are starting to see this a lot more,” he said. “They are hitting people on the Internet, and you need to be cautious because they are taking advantage of people on chat lines and facebook.

“God sent this person to me for me to help, said Roberts. “She knows she is being scammed. I told her to just cut off anything involving his name. What she has lost, she probably won’t get back. Just don’t lose anymore.”

The merchandise inside of these boxes included watches, rings, cell phones, clothes, shoes, coats, electric dog collars, and many other items.