Within the last three weeks, Financial Crimes detectives have received five reports of Montgomery County residents falling victim to what is commonly referred to as the “Grandparent Scam.” The victims have collectively given over $48,500 in cash to the scammers and have given the cash to someone who arrives at their home to collect the money. Detectives believe that these recent scams have been committed by the same suspects.
The “Grandparent Scam” is a version of a fraud during which the suspect poses as the victim’s family member or friend and tells the victim that he/she is in trouble or needs help. Sometimes the scammer states that the loved one cannot talk so the scammer is talking for the victim. 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. To assist in helping the family member or friend, the suspect generally says that the victim must send money via wire transfer or other fund transfer (ie: pre-paid cards, internet transaction, gift card purchase). However, in recent cases of these scams in Montgomery County, the scammer tells the victim that someone will come to the victim’s home to collect the payment. The victim provides the suspect with his/her address and a person comes and collects cash. These scammers often target older adults.
The suspect who comes to collect payment in these recent cases is described by victims as a white male in his 30s to 40s.
A summary of three of these latest incidents is as follows:
- On November 16, the 84-year-old female victim of Silver Spring received a call from a scammer posing as her grandson. The “grandson” stated that he had been involved in a traffic collision and was in police custody. Someone then posing as the grandson’s lawyer came on the phone and stated that the victim need to pay cash for her grandson’s release. A “courier” came to the victim’s home to collect the money.
- On November 19, the 77-year-old female victim of Silver Spring received a call from a scammer posing as a lawyer. The “lawyer” stated that her son had been involved in a car accident and the lawyer needed to be paid to appear in court with her son. A “bail bondsman” came by the home to pick up the cash.
- On November 20, the 81-year-old male victim of Ashton received a call from a scammer posing as an attorney. The “attorney” stated that his granddaughter’s boyfriend had been involved in an accident and was facing several charges. The “attorney” stated that the victim need to provide cash to keep the boyfriend out of jail. The “attorney” stated there was a gag order in the case and the victim could not talk to anyone about it. A person came by the home to pick up the cash.
Anyone who has information about the suspects involved with these recent scams is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. Those who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), online, or via the Crime Solvers app. Crime Solvers may pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam and have given money to the suspects, please call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.
It should be noted that these types of phone scams are not unique to Montgomery County and the tactic of going to the victim’s home to pick-up money has been reported in other parts of the state and 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.
- 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 and provide a reason as to why the situation cannot or should not be discussed.
- Remember that scammers often use a technique called “spoofing.” Spoofing provides a fictitious number to a Caller ID display.
- Do not send money or provide someone with cash. The scammer might provide you with a tracking number or some other type of number to add legitimacy to their claim.
- Most importantly, contact police immediately if you believe you are a victim of a telephone scam.
Detectives from the 4th District – Patrol Investigations Unit have charged Nassir Eggleston, age 24, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Julenni Mora, age 25, of Circle Gate Drive in Germantown, with multiple fraud, forgery, and theft offenses related to a check scam that they ran via Instagram. Investigators have identified five female victims of this scam (four Montgomery County residents and one Prince George’s County resident) dating back to 2018 with a total loss of approximately $6,400. Detectives are concerned that there are additional victims of this fraud.
The Police Department was made aware of this potential check scam in November 2019.
- During the investigation, detectives determined that Eggleston would use his Instagram account “unlvckynas” to post photos and videos of himself with cash. He would contact female Instagram account users and pay the users to use their accounts to commit the scam.
- Eggleston would then use the female accounts to post photos of bank account statements with large account balances and state how easy it was to make money through “currency exchange.”
- He would reach out to the Instagram users’ friends (both male and female) and ask a potential victim if she/he wanted to make money by participating in the “currency exchange.” If the person wanted to participate, Eggleston would tell the victim that as part of the exchange, he would send the victim a check and the victim would need to deposit it in his/her bank account.
- Once the victim deposited the check in her bank account, Eggleston would tell the victim to withdraw an amount of money from the check and send it to him via a cash app or online money transfer system or send cash. Eggleston would tell the victim that she could keep the remaining balance of the check. After a couple of days, the bank would notify the victim that the check was fraudulent and the victim was responsible for the check’s amount.
Investigators determined that the money the victims were sending to Eggleston was being sent to Mora’s bank accounts both directly (victims were sending the money to Mora’s cash app) or indirectly (the money was transferred to Mora’s account by Eggleston).
Detectives obtained warrants for Eggleston and Mora’s arrest on June 19, 2020. Mora was arrested on June 25 and Eggleston was arrested on September 23. Both suspects have been released from custody on bond.
Anyone who believes that he/she has been a victim of Eggleston and Mora’s scam is asked to contact investigators at 240-773-5541.
How to Spot, Avoid and Report Fake Check Scams (Federal Trade Commission)
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