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Bastrop County officers stop scam

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Local law enforcement was able to interrupt a multi-state scam last month, according to a post from the Bastrop County Sheriff Office.

“Occasionally, the Sheriff’s Office investigates a case that is especially gratifying,” the post, authored by Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook, said. “I’m sure all of us have received threatening phone calls; the threat may be for arrest from someone saying they are the IRS, a plea by someone saying a loved one has been arrested, be threatened with deportation, or any other of the various scams. All have a common pattern: the caller is demanding that you send cash to some address, or that you place money on a prepaid card, or have cash that someone will come by and pick up. The extortionists use any kind of scheme to get their money. These cases are difficult for law enforcement to trace. It is frustrating that we can’t get our hands on the caller.”

Many scam victims are elderly, have diminished capacity or are not familiar with the United States system of government. The extortionists leave very few viable leads, and the clues often lead to another country or a non-legitimate phone number, or local participants use false identification information to collect the money before rapidly moving out of the area.

On Thursday, January 28, the Bastrop County Sheriffs’ Office (BCSO) was able to intercept an ongoing scam and arrest the person attempting to collect the money, according to a post shared on the BCSO Facebook page on February 4.

A scam victim, who was from another country and is attending college in Arizona, received a call where the scammer was threatening to have the person deported if she didn’t pay. She sent a package of $32,000 in cash to a pick-up location in Bastrop County. She then called her local police department and learned she had been scammed, then checked with the package delivery service and learned that the package she had sent was due for delivery in about 15 minutes. 

The victim then called BCSO about the scam. A sheriff’s unit was near the store where the package was to be dropped off for pickup. The package, and the cash, was recovered.

BCSO learned that another package was awaiting pickup by the same person. Surveillance was established on the store, and a woman was arrested when she showed up to claim the package using a fictitious driver’s license from another state.

The second package contained $18,000 in cash mailed from California. When the sender, an 88-year-old woman, was contacted, she said she was contacted by a lawyer from the Department of Justice who threatened to cancel her social security number if she didn’t send the money. She was also threatened with arrest for money laundering and other crimes.

The arrestee was Myisha Carter, 31 from Houston. She was booked into the Bastrop County jail and changed with two counts of robbery, since there was a threat conveyed during the course of committing theft. Bond was set at $1.5 million. Carter was on pre-trial diversion on a federal charge in Houston for a similar theft scheme.

A search warrant on Carter’s vehicle yielded just under $100,000 in cash stashed under the front seat.

While preparing the February 3 press release, even Sheriff Cook received such a scam call, the post said. He received a call, appearing to be from Arizona, from someone who said he qualified for a lower interest rate on his credit card account, but did not know Cook’s name. He then hung up on the scammer, knowing they were just looking for his personal information.

The post ended with advice on identifying scams. If someone calls to ask for cash to be sent or asks to buy prepaid cards, such as GreenDot, Apple, Google, Home Depot or Lowes, it is certainly a scam. 

“It’s difficult to know when you are dealing with legitimate callers or proper government officials, but remember, when the caller or message seeks money, passwords or private information, it’s probably a scam,” Cook’s post said. “If in doubt, verify the request or call your local law enforcement agency to seek guidance and to report the incident.”