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Los Alamos police are on the lookout for a man who has, so far, defrauded area residents out of more than $10,000.
According to LAPD-PIO Officer Preston Ballew, the man presents himself as police officer from either Los Alamos County or Santa Fe County, and uses that false identification to extort money from his victims.
“The common false stories which are being used are; you have missed court or mandatory jury duty and now have a warrant for your arrest. Another story is, we have your son/daughter/grandchild/spouse in custody and in order to get out of jail you need to send a gift card or gift card numbers to pay for the bond,” Ballew said in a press release. “Another common story is posing as a relative asking for money to get out of jail, because they were in a car with drugs. The male will tell you not to disclose this to any other person. A police officer will never tell you to not disclose information.”
The money is then stolen when, after the victim buys the cards, they get in contact with the “police officer” again. The “officer” will ask the victim to read them the numbers off the back of the gift card.
“...and once he has the numbers from the card the money that was on the card is gone,” Ballew said in the press release, adding that at no time are gift cards considered a form of payment to a government entity, and that the courthouse in the Los Alamos Justice Center (next to the police department) is the only place that accepts payment for court fees or bonds.
Police say that residents that receive this type of call should either:
1. Hang up
2. Tell him or her that they are going to verify their identity through the Los Alamos Police Department.
3. Tell them they have the wrong number.
No matter what type of contact you have with this individual, the LAPD urges residents to immediately call the department at 662-8222 to report the incident.
Ballew said the department has already notified banks in White Rock and Los Alamos about the scheme, and so they will be looking out for unusual financial activity.
“Please do not take this as the bank trying to impede on your personal financial affairs, they are not,” Ballew said.