Friday, May 30, 2014

Bogus warrant scam uncovered!

A Montgomery Deputy Sheriff called my house and told me I had a warrant for missing a court date (Bench Warrant) . It came from this name and number: Huerta Maria 281-761-9112  The officer was very professional and believable.   However, the longer we talked the alarm bells began to ring.  He said my vehicle had been photographed by a red light camera and "the judge has flagged my offense, believing the infraction as bogus".  However, I had missed my court date and it was rescheduled for June 12th, in Richmond Texas.

Richmond Texas?  One thing after another sounded wrong, so I hung up and called the number back.  This time I got a different officer, who passed me off to a Lieutenant Stevens who gave me his badge number.  He explained it in great detail and it seemed legitimate and I am not usually fooled.  I told the officer I had never received notice of the infraction and this and that and the fine was $473, which I could pay with a credit card.  I slammed down the phone and wrote an email to my old friend Robocop, better known as Assistant Chief of police David Alford.  He's my goto source when I need something involving police work explained and totally trustworthy, in my book.

We passed an email or two, then talked on the phone.  It sounded fishy to him too and he verified I did NOT have a warrant.  here is the letter I received today from Lieutenant Eric Freed.
Mr. Marshall,

I applaud your gut instinct to reach out to Assistant Chief Alford and verify Lt. Stevens’ request for payment.  I wish more people would follow your lead when they get a suspicious call.

The calls you received are a scam to get your money.  You do not have warrants for your arrest.  This fact has been confirmed with both the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department as well as our own local, state and federal government databases.

I spoke with Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department (F.B.C.S.O) Organized Crime Unit Sergeant David Schultz and he is already aware of this scam.  One of Sergeant Schultz’ detectives is tasked with investigating a number of reports involving calls received from the fictitious Lt. Stevens #2443 demanding payment for non-existent warrants.  F.B.C.S.O. has issued a subpoena for the number that called you.  They have discovered it is a voice over internet number that shows a Cleveland, TX origin but is actually being made via computer somewhere else.  This complicates tracing the origin but sometimes the good guys catch a break.  F.B.C.S.O. actually had a detective call the number and the suspect cursed the investigator out!  Folks get brave when they are anonymous.  I have shared your experience and your contact information with Sergeant Schultz and he is adding it to his detective’s case.  The non-emergency number to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division is 281-341-4686.

If you receive further calls from Lt. Stevens or one of his fictitious coworkers, you have options: 

-        If you do not want to be bothered, you may ignore them or block the calls by contacting your service provider.

-        If you are a curious soul, you may log the time and date and share it with Assistant Chief Alford or myself.

I do not recommend talking to the suspect(s) because they might continue to pry or even harass you.

If you have any questions about this matter, feel free to contact me.  I hope we have been able to help you today,

Lieutenant Eric Freed

Investigations Division
City of Baytown Police Department

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