Arundel chief of police targeted in check scam

May 06, 2008|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

In trying to dupe an unsuspecting citizen with a phony check scheme, scammers probably could've picked a better mark.

Last Thursday, Anne Arundel County police Chief James P. Teare Sr. received, via FedEx, an unexpected check for $4,200 at his office at county police headquarters.

He turned it over to investigators, who later determined it was fraudulent. They believe the check was sent as part of a scam in which victims are sent a large sum of money - often described as prize winnings - with instructions to deposit the check and send a portion of the proceeds to an address, typically out of the country.

Teare's package contained no such instructions, according to a police spokesman. But investigators determined that the check had come from an account that had been closed.

"This incident shows that even law enforcement [personnel] are not immune to such scams," said Sgt. John Gilmer, a county police spokesman. "Our biggest thing is to make the public aware, especially the senior citizens who may be a little more [trusting] , that if it appears too good to be true, it most likely is."

Teare was not available for comment, reportedly working on a departmental budget that should ensure he won't be tempted to cash the big, bogus check: County Executive John R. Leopold has proposed a $5.2 million - or 5.5 percent - increase in funding for the county police.

Gilmer said that Teare is not the only law enforcement figure whom scammers have tried to trick. County investigators learned that the director of the FBI's Atlanta field office was targeted in a similar fashion. A spokesman there could not be reached for comment.

Anne Arundel investigators are looking into Teare's check, but with return addresses as far away as Nigeria, local investigators often are unable to track down the perpetrators. Instead, Gilmer said police want to make sure residents don't fall for such scams.

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