Police have arrested five individuals who they say worked together to scam thousands of dollars from the elderly.
Tierra McCoy, Vaneka Powers, Michael Fields, Christopher Pasco, and Michael Pasco were arrested the weekend of Aug. 18. Charges include robbery.
The scam has been described numerous times in the Baltimore Guide. According to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, one of the females would call a victim and say that she was a representative of the city tax office, and that the victim owed back taxes. She would then state that she was sending someone from a city agency to collect the money.
“Sometimes she said it was the Baltimore Police Department, sometimes she said the Sheriff’s Department, and sometimes it was the city tax office,” said Guglielmi, adding that a lot of the incidents involved assault.
In one alleged incident on Aug. 13 that was reported to the police and printed in the Guide’s “Neighborhood Watch” section last week, a woman allegedly called the victim and told him that he owed several thousand dollars. One of the men reportedly went to the victim’s house, shoved him in the face when he opened the door, and took $1,000. Guglielmi said that the incident had been linked to the individuals arrested last week.
“The fuel that drove them was greed,” he said, adding that grandmothers and grandfathers, “our most highly regarded segment of the population,” had been victimized.
Guglielmi said that the Deputy Commissioner ordered the Check and Fraud Unit to work on the case until it was solved on Thursday, Aug. 16. Just days earlier, the police had released warnings about the scam to be disseminated through the media. Even after the warnings hit newspapers, incidents continued.
“That’s pretty brazen,” said Guglielmi.
He said that the Check and Fraud Unit worked around the clock, sleeping at the station, until the arrests were made. Guglielmi said that technology, witnesses cooperation, and community involvement contributed to the arrests, but didn’t go into further detail.
He added that there has been “some confessing” from the arrestees.
A total of 10 scamming incidents have occurred recently, with seven of those being positively linked to the five arrested, according to Guglielmi.
“We are now looking at older cases,” he said. “We do believe they’ve been doing this for quite some time.”
Guglielmi said that people may have given money to scammers without realizing they were being scammed.
“We are asking that anyone who may have been a victim to give us a call,” he said.
by Erik Zygmont