Businesses, residents stung by scam

August 29, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

A new version of an old scam -- fraudulently soliciting money on the telephone -- has stung several Harford County business owners and residents in recent weeks, authorities say.

Deputy DeWayne Curry, spokesman for the county sheriff's office, said at least three or four local business people and residents have been victimized by the scam this month.

He said more victims need to come forward before investigators can determine how widespread the problem is.

The scam, in a typical case, involves a caller who identifies himself -- using an assumed name -- as being from a particular law enforcement agency. The name of the agency used is real, although the agency he says he works for may change from call to call.

The caller requests money from the victim -- generally hundreds of dollars -- to pay for advertisements to run in what law enforcement officials say are bogus magazines ostensibly published by police agencies.

Business people targeted as victims are asked to prepare an ad package that will be picked up for the caller.

Several private delivery services are hired to make the pickups.

The victims are instructed to give a check for the cost of their ads to the delivery service driver, who leaves a receipt with a bogus company logo on it.

"In some cases, the return address on the receipt is even different than the address the victim is asked to forward the ad to," Deputy Curry said.

He said the delivery drivers are believed to be unwitting participants in the scam.

To hook unsuspecting victims, the caller may enhance the scam by saying that the money will go to help an injured officer's family or to a fund for educating children of slain police officers.

The caller has pretended to represent police agencies from various counties, Deputy Curry said.

"We want to warn people about this scam," he said.

Deputy Curry urges anyone who has received such calls to contact the sheriff's office at (410) 838-6600.

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