Sheriff warns of mystery shopper scams which send people fake checks to shop but leave them as victims when bank deducts check amount from account: Also, watch for tax frauds as April 15 tax deadline nears
Sheriff James Pohlmann is warning residents of mystery shopper attempted scams which have cropped up in St. Bernard Parish and also says to watch for over-the-phone tax frauds as April 15 federal income tax deadline nears.
The sheriff said a check-cashing business in St. Bernard has reported fake checks have been brought in by residents recently who said they got them from so-called mystery shopper enterprises.
The scam operates likes this: someone claiming to be with a legitimate company sends out or gives a large counterfeit cashier’s check, money order or even a check drawn on a credit union account to a would-be victim, the sheriff said. The shopper is told to cash it, perhaps by putting into their personal checking account, and told to wire the majority of the funds via MoneyGram or Western Union and then keep the rest as their ‘pay’ for comparison shopping.
“The key is the victim is led to believe they have been hired to do a legitimate job of comparison shopping,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “Don’t be fooled by these scams, which sometimes start as an advertisement in want ads where people are looking for jobs.
“They want you to send them your money and leave you holding a fake check that you will be responsible for when it becomes clear the check or money order is bad.’’
Banking rules require banks to make funds available on cashier’s checks and money orders within 1-5 days, so the scammers are counting on you receiving the funds and going through with the wire transfer before the check or money order has actually cleared the bank, Sheriff Pohlmann said. “By the time you find out the check is not legitimate, you are out the money you sent and will be held accountable for the bounced check by your financial institution.’’
Be leary of a check received in the mail or otherwise if you are required to send your own money back to them, the sheriff said. Legitimate companies don’t operate that way.
Contact the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501 to file a report if you receive such a check. You can also file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. and the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Also, Sheriff Pohlmann said, with the April 15 deadline approaching for filing your federal income tax return residents should be on the lookout for scammers who contact you claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service.
Typically, such callers want your bank routing number and account numbers, claiming they will deposit your tax refund by direct deposit to your bank.
“Never give out such information to strangers,’’ the sheriff said. They can use it to drain your accounts with electronic deductions.
Each year, including already this year, people are defrauded in such scams, he said.
Some 1.3 ounces of crack cocaine in over 100 small baggies and worth $3,800, as well as $3,000 cash seized as West Bank couple arrested in traffic stop
Some 1.3 ounces of crack cocaine wrapped in 100 small baggies and worth $3,800, as well as $3,000 in cash, was seized as a West Bank couple was arrested Tuesday evening, March 25, in an Arabi traffic stop, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
It was the largest crack cocaine arrest in St. Bernard Parish in several months, totaling 38 grams, officials said. The Westwego man who was driving and the Gretna woman passenger were apparently delivering the drugs and making sales in the parish when they were stopped.
The drugs were packaged in baggies ranging from values of $100 to $20. The total value was $3,800.
Neither suspects have major criminal histories or have been arrested in St. Bernard before.
Michael Powell, 36, 21 Morning Glory Lane, Westwego, and Odette L. Patterson, 37, 611 Fried St., Gretna, were arrested about 5:40 p.m. March 25 after the vehicle they were in was stopped by agents of the sheriff’s Special Investigations Division at West St. Bernard Highway and Rowley Boulevard in Arabi for traffic offenses, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Baggies of crack were spotted in Patterson’s open purse and in bottles on Powell and otherwise inside the car, the sheriff said. Powell also had more than $3,000 in cash in his wallet.
Powell and Patterson were booked with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of more than 28 grams of crack cocaine. Powell also was booked with traffic offenses including improper lane use and failure to use a turn signal.
Powell was being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond set at $68,000 and Patterson was jailed in lieu of $65,000 bond.
Sheriff’s Office seeks identity of man who committed an obscenity on a St. Bernard Parish public bus: Anyone with information should call (504) 271-2501
Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501.
The incident happened after a black male with facial hair and a forearm tattoo, wearing a white shirt, cargo shorts and a white ball hat, boarded the parish bus about 6:15 a.m. at St. Claude Avenue at Mehle Avenue in Arabi, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
The man, who was alone on the bus with the female driver, sat immediately behind her and began asking her inappropriate questions, the sheriff said. Later, after he had exited the bus, the driver reported to her supervisor what the passenger had said and the supervisor checked the video and audio system on board the bus.
Sheriff Pohlmann said the supervisor called the Sheriff’s Office after seeing surveillance footage showing the passenger had committed an obscenity while he was speaking to the driver.
DOTD having overnight closures of Judge Seeber Bridge on Claiborne Avenue on Monday nights through Thursday nights, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., until April 4
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is having overnight closures of the Judge Seeber Bridge on Claiborne Avenue to vehicular traffic, Monday thru Thursday nights from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., ending Friday, April 4.
During the closures, the contractor will be touching up and repairing painted areas on the lift-span and both towers, and cleaning and painting the east counterweight. The alternate routes are La. 46/St. Claude Bridge or I-10 to the Chalmette 510 Exit.
Motorists can access the latest updates on real-time traffic and road conditions using the 511 Traveler Information System by dialing 511 from their telephone and saying the route or region on which they are seeking information. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).
This information can also be accessed by visiting the 511 Traveler Information Web site at www.511la.org. Additionally, motorists can utilize the new “Way to Geaux” application to receive real-time, around the clock travel alerts. The hands-free, eyes-free “smart phone” application can be downloaded on any iPhone or Android device by visiting either the iTunes App Store, or Google Play.
Sheriff’s Office asks residents and businesses with outdoor surveillance cameras to register in a database for police to check the nearest video system after a major crime;
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann is asking residents and business owners to actively participate in “our fight against crime’’ by making it easier for police to quickly see surveillance system video after a major incident to more quickly identify suspects.
The sheriff said, “We want to create a secured database that contains residential and commercial addresses and contact information that would allow officers investigating a crime – such as an act of violence, burglary, vehicle theft or other major occurrence – the ability to immediately locate the nearest surveillance systems in the area.”
“By allowing us to know video surveillance system locations, residents and business owners would provide the Sheriff’s Office with yet another tool to help keep St. Bernard Parish a safe place to live and work.’’
The Sheriff’s Office isn’t asking for access to anyone’s home or business, just to see whatever video your system may have captured if there has been a crime in the immediate area of a residential or business location, the sheriff said. A copy of video from a certain time period would be good enough.
“It would be done with as little intrusion to the resident or business owners as possible,” said Sheriff Pohlmann.
Sheriff Pohlmann also assures that no one other than law enforcement personnel would have access to the registry, which would be kept in the sheriff’s 911 center’s computer-aided dispatching system which is not accessible to the public and is in a secured location.
To register, call Capt. Charles Borchers at the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 278-7628. Leave a return number if you reach his voice mail. Borchers is Director of Community Relations and longtime Director of Crime Prevention and head of Neighborhood Watch and Business Watch for the Sheriff’s Office.
Callers will be asked for basic information: including whether the surveillance system you have is able to record at night and over what period it records before starting to over-write previous recordings. If you are unsure, please provide as much information as possible.
Advances in technology have allowed people the ability to protect their properties by installing low-cost surveillance systems that capture clear video recordings during both day and night, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Sheriff Pohlmann said, “We have always enjoyed good relations with our residents and business owners and they have helped solve crimes when they have provided access to their surveillance systems after an incident in their area and we sought their help.’’
“Often, they recorded video of a crime but were unaware it was captured on their surveillance systems,’’ he said.
Now, Sheriff Pohlmann said, “The department would like to take the next logical step in our effort to fight crime’’ by creating a database that could be used immediately to locate the nearest surveillance cameras.
“We all have seen the news where several different surveillance systems recordings have been spliced together to form a complete time line of a crime, often leading to an immediate identification of a perpetrator,” Sheriff Pohlmann said.
“We would like to have the ability for our officers to access the database, contact the owners of the nearest systems to where the crime occurred, and ask permission to view – at the owners’ convenience – the surveillance system video to identify any persons or vehicles involved.
He said time saved by having this valuable information immediately accessible to the Sheriff’s Office, rather than having to go door-to-door looking for a video surveillance system, would aid in making a speedy arrest or even possibly saving a life by getting the perpetrators off the street.
“Anyone who registers their video surveillance system in our registry would be making a direct contribution to help keep their area safe by having video that possibly could aid us in identifying a perpetrator of a crime in the fastest time frame possible.”
4 men arrested over theft of boat, a $5,000 motor and a trailer in Chalmette; 2 jailed in parish for possession of stolen things and 2 in Jefferson for theft of a boat there
Four men have been arrested, two in St. Bernard Parish and two in Jefferson Parish, over a March 8 theft of a boat, a motor worth more than $5000 and a trailer taken in Chalmette, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
The boat, motor and trailer have been recovered.
Two men, James Reed, 32, a St. Bernard native, and Travis Delaney, 31, of the West Bank, were jailed in Jefferson Parish recently for theft of a boat there. They are also wanted in St. Bernard on arrest warrants obtained from a judge by Det. Sgt. Steve Guillot, alleging they stole a boat, motor and trailer in Chalmette on March 8, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Reed also is wanted in St. Bernard Parish for illegal possession of stolen things and unauthorized use of a moveable – the items stolen. The boat and trailer were found later that day by a State Police trooper in Chalmette, stripped of its Go Devil motor and other items.
The motor was later found the night of March 8 after the victim received information about who might have his motor, the sheriff said.
Also, Kary Alexie, 48, of Lafitte, who said he has been living in St. Bernard a short time, and Jerral Ronquille, 46, of St. Bernard Parish, were arrested in the case for possession of stolen things, the stolen motor. Both were booked into St. Bernard Parish Prison and have been released on bond.
Alexie, also booked with illegal possession of the drug Suboxone, a drug used wean addicts off heroin, was released on $25,000 bond.
Ronquille, who acknowledged buying the stolen motor at a low price, was freed on $15,000 bond.
An outdoor video surveillance camera at a home near where the boat was stolen in Chalmette, showed the theft took place about 4:15 a.m. the morning of March 8, Sheriff Pohlmann said. It also showed the subject who stole it was in a light-colored extended cab pickup truck.
Sheriff’s detectives developed information on who stole the boat, motor and trailer after the motor was recovered on Randazzo Drive. Both Reed and Travis were arrested in Jefferson about the same time they were wanted in St. Bernard.
St. Bernard Indoor Shooting Center holds ribbon-cutting to mark return to Arabi at 212 Aycock Street
The St Bernard Indoor Shooting Center held a ribbon-cutting on Monday, March 17 to mark its return to Arabi at 212 Aycock Street. The business is under the new direction of Brannon LeBouef and will be the headquarters for NOLATAC Training and Consulting, which provides services to the law enforcement, military, legal, and private security fields. SBISC specializes in being a shooting range, instruction in defensive training and concealed weapons classes, firearms sales, rentals and transfers and consultations.
On hand for the ribbon-cutting were LeBouef who is holding the scissors, Sheriff James Pohlmann, Chief Deputy Sheriff richard Baumy, Parish President David Peralta, Councilman Casey Hunnicutt, Chamber President Fred Sigur and other Chamber members.
Also shown, Sheriff Pohlmann takes a turn at the shootiing range, with LeBouef at his left,
St. Bernard Special Olympics had 92 athletes in games held March 14, including Alexis Hernandez, 12, who goes to the nationals in June; deputies from sheriff’s Special Investigations Division took part
Melissa Bruno could hardly have been more excited in the stands as her 12-year-old daughter, Alexis Hernandez of Arabi Elementary, carried the Special Olympics torch – with her older sister at her side – to help open the St. Bernard school system’s Special Olympics games March 14 at Chalmette High’s football stadium.
Alexis Hernandez was one of 92 children and adults with special needs who took part in the games, held for moiré than 20 years by the school system. But Alexis, a runner, will also be going to the Special Olympics national games in New Jersey this June.
Some 100 volunteers, including Sheriff’s Office deputies, parish government workers, civic clubs including Kiwanis and the Lions and employees of several private businesses, took part in the games at Chalmette High. Many helped coordinate races, soft ball throws and other events.
Paul Frey, adapted physical education teacher and director of Special Olympics for the school system, directed the events, assisted by school system Principal Donna Schultz and others.
Alexis Hernandez carried the torch for the opening ceremonies, assisted by Gerald Neyland of Arabi, with the 12-year’s sister, Elizabeth Hernandez, 16 of Chalmette High, along side her. Sheriff’s deputies walked behind the group on the track at the football stadium.
The girls’ mother, Melissa Bruno, hugged her daughter afterward and said, “We are very excited’’ about Alexis going to the national Special Olympics in June, which take place in Princeton, New Jersey. The 12-year-old went to the state finals last year and has qualified for the nationals.
“It’s a dream for her,’’ the mother said. “A once in a lifetime dream.’’
One of the things Alexis wants to do is go to the bakery where the TV show “Cake Boss,’’ is filmed. “She watches it all the time,’’ Melissa Bruno said of her daughter.
The girl has participated in running events about four years, the mother said.
A 41-year-old Chalmette man booked with aggravated rape of a girl under age 7 who is the daughter of a woman he knew; He is being held on $750,000 bond
Lucas Silva, arrested Thursday night, March 13, is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond set Friday at $750,000.
Silva had the girl take part in sex acts with him, Sheriff Pohllmann said.
He would face up to life in prison if convicted of aggravated rape of the child.
Silva, who speaks little English, also has a hold placed on him by federal immigration officials because he is believed to be in the country illegally, the sheriff said.
The child’s mother contacted the Sheriff’s Office nearly a month ago to report she believed Silva had had sex with the girl based on what the child had told her, the sheriff said.
The Sheriff’s Office Juvenile Division investigated the case, including interviews and medical examination, then sought a warrant for Silva’s arrest from a judge, which was obtained, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
He said Silva was arrested at his residence.
Louisiana State Police Troop B investigated a fatal crash on East St. Bernard Highway involving a pedestrian, identified as 58 year-old Mandy Moravec of Meraux,
Preliminary investigation revealed that 51 year-old Bonnie Evans of Violet, LA, was driving a 2008 Mazda 3 east on La. 46, just west of Judy Drive.
Moravec was crossing La. 46 and was struck by the Mazda, then transported to the LSU Interim Hospital Level 1 Trauma Center where she was pronounced dead. Impairment is suspected for Evans.
Evans submitted to a breath test and the results revealed that she was over the legal limit of .08g% and was booked with Vehicular Homicide, DWI, Careless Operation and Expired Drivers License.
Evans is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond set Tuesday at $ 250,000.