In June 12 IssueRussell County News
There are a multitude of scams that crooks use to defraud Kentuckians, but some of the most insidious are at work locally; love bandits.
These are individuals who prey on the affections of lonely men or women to help them steal from others.
“—sent her flowers, chocolates and gifts,” said Officer Chasity Shirley, of the Russell Springs Police Department. “—told her that he loved her and said he wanted to marry her.”
This person, who called himself Ken Cary, met a local woman on the internet, through Facebook, started a romance and began having clothes and other personal items shipped to the woman’s house.
The pretext was that “he” would soon visit and wanted to have things there waiting for “him.”
“Then he told her that his son had an accident in Rome and he couldn’t come her to visit but was going there,” the officer explained.
Shirley said the next step was, in all likelihood, to ask the woman to send him his things over there, but that was when the police had been notified of the situation.
“It was an identity fraud case out of Arkansas,” she said. “He was probably doing the same thing with several other women in the US because there were about $3,000 in fradulent charges on the card.”
The woman locally was not charged because she was not knowingly doing anything wrong. But Shirley said the local victim was devastated when she found out that not only was her internet love affair with someone who was a criminal, attempting to use her in a scam, but may or may not have even been a “he.”
“We generally refer to them as ‘it’,” the officer said. “You don’t really know who is sitting there on the other end of that connection.”
She added that once she told the woman what was going on it became obvious to her she had been deceived, but that made it all the more personally insulting.
Within the last 8 months another local resident was snared by the same “honey trap,” but that time it was a man.
“He was an older man,” the officer said. “He’d become involved with a woman overseas through an internet dating service. She asked him if she could ship things to him because the companies wouldn’t ship overseas.”
Shirley said it is overseas shipments that most of these scams have in common, since cooperation with foreign police agencies is spotty at best and international policing agencies have no interest in working such cases.
In the case last week, involving the local woman, Shirley said the merchandise locally was only about $300 worth but in the case last fall the local man had shipped, “several thousands of dollars worth of mostly electronics overseas.”
In both cases the identity fraud had been discovered by that victim, then the charges had to be tracked down and the deliveries tracked to where they were delivered, which led to local law enforcement becoming involved.
Internet scams are not the only rip-offs running locally. The officer also warned that the “Irish Travelers,” have shown up in the county.
That is a group of American Gypsies which do home repair, paving and driveway sealing scams, generally on senior citizens.
In most cases either a deposit for materials is taken and the workers never return or work is started, with some pay collected and then the workers leave never to return.