Detectives from the 4th District – Patrol Investigations Unit are asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect who has used fraudulent checks to pay for transportation services to and from the Wheaton area. The suspect, who has identified himself to the victims as Carlos Arturo Lemus and Juan Carlos Lemus, speaks Spanish and has victimized two Spanish-speaking residents. Today, the Police Department is releasing photographs of the suspect and is asking for the public’s help to identify him.
Both victims reported that they were hired by the suspect to drive him between the area of Boston, Massachusetts, and Wheaton, Maryland. During one of the rides, the suspect asked to make a stop at Live! Casino in Hanover, Maryland (adjacent to Arundel Mills Mall). The suspect paid for the service with a check that was for an amount greater than the fee for the trip. The suspect advised the victims to cash the check and give him the cash minus what he owed them for the transportation service. The victims were later notified by their banks that the checks were fraudulent. In total, the suspect obtained approximately $6,400.00 from the two victims.
One of the victims took a photograph of the suspect because he felt that the suspect was acting strange. The other victim was able to provide police with a social media photograph of the suspect; the suspect’s social media account has since been deleted.
Anyone with information regarding the suspect or these crimes is asked to call the 4th District – Patrol Investigations Unit at 240-773-5476. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.
Investigators are concerned that there may be additional victims of this suspect’s fraud. Anyone who believes that he/she has been a victim is asked to call detectives at 240-773-5476.
Suspect who cashed a fraudulently altered check
Montgomery County Department of Police – 3rd District Patrol Investigations Unit detectives continue to investigate a check fraud incident that occurred and today, are releasing surveillance photographs of the male who cashed the fraudulent check.
The investigation by detectives determined that the adult male victim mailed an envelope containing a check for his rent from a Silver Spring area post office. Approximately one month later, the victim was notified by his landlord that the check had not been received. The victim contacted his bank and was told that the check had been cashed at a PNC Bank located on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest, Washington, D.C. The bank also informed the victim that the name on the check had been altered and that the amount had been altered to $8,550.00.
Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspect is asked to contact the 3rd District Patrol Investigations Unit at 240-773-6830. For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of these suspects. Call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Tipsters will remain anonymous.
Suspect who cashed a fraudulently altered check
Suspect in fake gold scam
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Financial Crimes Section are investigating the report of a scam involving a suspect who sold the victims fake gold (it was actually copper). Today, detectives are releasing a photograph of the suspect and asking for the public’s help in identifying him.
The investigation by MCP Financial Crimes Section detectives determined that in late August, one of the adult male victims, who owns a gold store outside of the United States, was contacted by a known acquaintance asking if he would be interested in purchasing a large quantity of gold from an individual known as “Mike” who resides in Gaithersburg. The first victim then contacted a friend who was also interested in purchasing gold, and the two contacted the suspect and agreed to meet with him at a Gaithersburg hotel.
On August 20, the victims met with “Mike” at a Gaithersburg hotel. The victims accompanied “Mike” to the third floor of a public storage unit located on Christopher Avenue where “Mike” showed the victims a box which he stated contained a large quantity of gold. The suspect told the victims that they could remove a small sample of the gold to have it tested. After the victims removed the sample, the suspect sealed the box and said that no one could tamper with the box. That afternoon, the victims tested the sample gold at an independent facility who determined that the sample was gold.
On August 21, the victims met the suspect at the same storage facility. The victims, who observed the box in the storage unit, paid the suspect $300,000 for the gold. The victims left the facility with the box. The victims then had the contents of the box tested and were told that the material in the box was copper and not gold. They then reported the scam to police.
Anyone with information regarding this suspect or this scam is asked to call the Financial Crimes Section at 240-773-6330. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest in this case.
Additional photo of suspect in fake gold scam
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Financial Crimes Section are warning residents of a phone scam targeting Chinese residents. From May to August, seven Montgomery County residents have collectively wired approximately 1.5 million dollars to the scammers.
During this phone scam, the suspect(s) have called the potential victim (of Chinese descent) via phone. The scammers use some, all, or a variation of the following: The scammer, speaking in a dialect of Chinese, states that he/she is from a Chinese or Hong Kong government organization such as a law enforcement agency located in China or Hong Kong, a government prosecutor, or the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. The scammers state that the receiver of the call has been involved in some wrong-doing and needs to wire money to China or Hong Kong in order to resolve the problem. Often, the receiver then receives additional calls stating that it has been determined that the receiver has not committed crimes but is actually a victim of identity theft. The receiver is instructed to wire money to clear his/her name. The receiver is often prompted to disclose personal information to include banking information. The receiver is threatened that if he/she does not comply, he will face consequences to include deportation and detention in a Chinese prison. The receiver is also told not to disclose the issue to anyone.
In these particular types of financial crimes, because the suspects are believed to be located outside of the United States, it is even more difficult for investigators to identify and prosecute the suspects and recoup the victims’ money. Investigators are urging residents to share this phone scam information, particularly those residents in the Chinese community. Anyone who believes he/she has been a victim of this scam and has not reported to the Police Department is asked to call detectives at 240-773-6330.
Note to Media: A Financial Crimes detective is available this afternoon to speak about this scam. Please call the Public Information Office at 240-773-5030 (press 4) to make arrangements for an interview.
Within the last two weeks, Financial Crimes detectives have received two cases where residents have fallen victim to what is commonly referred to as the “Grandparent Scam” and have given funds ($5,000 each) to a scammer.
During these two Montgomery County cases, the scammer posed as the victim’s grandchild and stated that he (the “grandchild”) was in jail in another state and needed money from the grandparent to secure a bond appearance. One of the victims was instructed to wire money to a bank account. The other victim received a call from the “grandchild” and then a second call from a scammer posing as the child’s attorney. The “attorney” instructed the victim to go to Best Buy, purchase gift cards, and read the gift cards number to the “attorney” to satisfy payment.
The “Grandparent Scam” is a version of a fraud during which the suspect tells the victim that a family member or friend is in trouble or needs help. Scammers present a variety of emergency situations in these calls, to include a loved one who is in jail, has been in an accident, has been kidnapped, or has been physically hurt. The suspect often states that the event has occurred in another area and that the loved one is unable to talk. To assist in helping the family member or friend, the suspect says that the victim must send money via wire transfer or other fund transfer (ie: pre-paid cards, internet transaction, gift card purchase).
These types of phone scams are not unique to Montgomery County and have been reported in neighboring jurisdictions and around the country.
Please read the following tips on what to do if you receive a telephone call that you believe is a scam:
- Do not provide information over the phone. Scammers often ask leading questions to retrieve information from you. Often, you do not realize that you are giving them valuable information. In both of these recent cases, the scammer began the telephone call with, “Hello Grandma” and, “Do you know who this is?”
- Scammers create a sense of urgency; they state that they are in distress and need money immediately. Slow down and ask the caller for detailed information and a contact number. Tell the caller you will call them back after you verify information.
- Then, attempt to verify the caller’s story by calling family and/or friends. Scammers will often tell the loved one not to tell anyone because he/she is embarrassed about being in the situation.
- Remember that scammers often use a technique called “spoofing.” Spoofing provides a fictitious number to a Caller ID display.
- Do not send money. Beware of anyone asking you to wire money or buy gift cards and provide them with the cards’ information.
- Most importantly, contact police immediately if you believe you are a victim of a telephone scam.