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Scammer uses Waynesville Police Web site in money con

by Jon Ostendorff

published April 8, 2008 4:44 pm

WAYNESVILLE – The Waynesville Police Department became a victim of a bizarre scheme to get money and personal information from people in at least two states and South America.

Someone pretending to be an FBI agent cloned the police department’s Web site and used it, and pictures of fake FBI badges, as credentials in the scheme, Detective Ryan Singleton said.

He made the story public on Tuesday to warn people. Police have alerted federal authorities.

Police learned of the scheme on Sunday when would-be victims called to check on the strange directions they were getting from in emails and telephone calls.

One woman, who lives in the eastern part of the state, said she was told she had a package from London waiting for her at the Waynesville Police Department. The caller told her the package contained money and that she had to pay $2,700 to get the package. Her sister, who happened to be a Wake County Sheriff’s deputy, called the Waynesville Police Department to check the story.

When a police sergeant called the victim for more information, she told him she had since been called again and was told she would be arrested on charges of money laundering if she didn’t pay up.

After that, two more people called on Sunday with similar stories.

One man, who lives in Brazil, told police that a man identifying himself as “Inspector Eric Hopley” of the Waynesville Police Department emailed him and told him he had a package waiting on him from Africa. The “inspector” said in his email that the man had to provide his Social Security number to get the package.

Another man, from Tampa, Fla., told police a similar story but said he had actually supplied his Social Security number and other personal information.

Singleton obtained a form the scammer was using in the con. The form was given to victims with the excuse that personal information was needed to prove the money waiting for them wasn’t from illegal activities. It asked for the victim’s Social Security number, full name, address and mother’s maiden name – everything an identity thief would need.

“We have never seen something this detailed,” he said.

The scammer took the identity of an actual police officer, although not one in Waynesville. Eric Hopley turned out to be the deputy police chief in Ontario, Calif.

The scammer used Hopley’s photograph from the department’s Web site in his emails. He placed the photo on fake pictures of an FBI badge and ID card to provide as proof of law enforcement credentials when some of the potential victims questioned him.

He set up a Web site, www.fbibdu.com, to supply to would-be victims as well. It is a copy of the Waynesville police Web site with a few minor changes, such as listing “Detective Eric Hopley” as a staffer and changing telephone and fax numbers to those used in the scam.

No one answered the number associated with the site listed on whois.net, a company that tracks domain names. The owner listed a Michigan address.

Police have sent the details of the scheme to the United States Secret Service since the crime did not involve anyone in Waynesville and was set up similar to a Nigerian-style check cashing scheme.

Nigerian scams usually involved one person sending a bad check to another with directions to cash it and send part of the total back. The person cashing the check is promised a cut in the deal but the check always turns out to be bogus and the victim is left holding the bad check.

Singleton said he doesn’t know why the scammer picked Waynesville and used it combined with a name and photo an officer in California, an email address purported to come from a “Washington Police” department and fake FBI credentials.

But he does want people to be aware of the fraud.

“We do communicate by email sometimes,” he said. “We want people to be aware that they can call us and speak to an officer if they ever receive an email.”

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April 20, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] See the original post here: Scammer uses Waynesville Police Web site in money con […]

    Pingback by Scammer uses Waynesville Police Web site in money con | Conning Us | April 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. les comento que a mi me llegaron mail de un tal ERIC HOPLEY ..tambien me llegaron mail de la loteria de reino unido…y de un programa pago para ir a estudiar a francia…todo eso es mentira???por favor respondanme y me gustaria saber si tengo de que preocuparme??? muchas gracias por la informacion.

    Comment by andrea | September 26, 2008 | Reply


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