Recent Scam Information

Attorney General warns Mainers to be suspicious of callers demanding immediate payment of a debt by pre-paid debit cards or other cash transfers

 

(AUGUSTA)  Attorney General Janet T. Mills reports that her Office has received many recent reports of aggressive calls from scammers demanding immediate payments on supposed debts.  The common thread among the scammers is that they attempt to get you to make a payment by wire transfer or pre-paid debit card. Mainers should be very suspicious of anyone calling out of the blue and demanding an immediate payment of a debt, especially if they require that payment by any reloadable cash cards such as Green Dot Money Pak or a wire service like Western Union.

“The names and the details of the scams vary,” Attorney General Mills said.  “Typically the caller pretends they are from a business that you know and are attempting to collect an old debt. Perhaps they say you have won a lottery.  Sometimes they even claim to be from the state or federal government. The caller has just enough information about you that you believe they are legitimate.  The red flag, however, is that they want you to make an instant payment with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.  This is how you know you are getting scammed. Hang up the phone immediately.”

In this information age, a scammer can glean a lot of information about a person from the internet.  They may also have coupled that information with private personal or financial data from an illegal data breach.  The result is that the scammer can be very convincing when they call you out of the blue and catch you off guard.

“No legitimate business, governmental entity or genuine debt collection agency is going to call you without having first sent you mail.  They will not demand an immediate payment. They will not require that you wire cash or use a pre-paid debit card service, and they will not threaten you with arrest if you do not comply,” said Attorney General Mills.  “These are all the red flags of a scam artist.”

One Maine resident recently recorded his interaction with a scammer claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.  His call illustrates several tactics used by phone scammers.  They claimed to be from an entity that the target is familiar with and who he has the potential to owe money to.  When challenged about his authenticity, the scammer tried to reassure the target by giving a badge number in order to sound official.  And finally, the payment could only be made by “Green Dot Money Pak,” available at places like Walmart or drug store chains, and not by other typical means.  The scammers are also not easily dissuaded; different people called repeatedly making the same claims in order to make him think they were legitimate.

Green Dot Money Pak is one brand name of a service people can use instead of a bank account to store cash; though there are many other companies who offer similar services.  It looks like and can be used like a typical debit or credit card at cash registers or ATMs.  These cards can be obtained by purchasing one at a store and loading it with funds.  Each card has a unique account number.  Scammers will get you to load your cash onto the card account and then have you read them the account number over the phone.  They then withdraw your cash from the account from anywhere in the world, virtually untraceable.

The IRS has warned people about scams like this and the FTC has a website with information about the IRS scam and other common phone scams like the foreign lottery, extended car warranties or charitable causes.

“The best advice to Mainers is to be very suspicious of anyone calling you and demanding an immediate payment,” said Attorney General Mills.  “When in doubt, hang up the phone.  If you have questions, call the entity they claimed to be from to see if you have a debt to pay and never, ever make a payment over the phone.”

Maine consumers who have questions about phone scams or other consumer protection matters can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division: 1-800-436-2131 or email: consumer.mediation@Maine.gov .

Bail set at $25,000 for pair accused of stealing 9 mm handgun, $176 in change in nighttime break-ins

Posted April 22, 2014, at 3:09 p.m.
Last modified April 22, 2014, at 5:49 p.m.

Randall Cressey

Contributed photo
Randall Cressey

William Cushman

Contributed photo
William Cushman

BANGOR, Maine — Two local men suspected of being part of a burglary ring that executed nighttime break-ins at homes in Bangor, Veazie and Orrington earlier this month made their first appearances before a judge Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

William Cushman, 22, of Brewer and Randall Cressey, 23, of Hampden each are charged with one count of Class B burglary and Class C theft in separate break-ins. Cushman also is charged with Class B theft in connection with a break-in the night of April 10 and 11 at a home in Veazie in which a firearm, which has been recovered, was stolen.

Cressey was charged in connection with an Orrington burglary the night of April 11 and 12, according to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office. He allegedly stole two large containers of change then redeemed it, with the help of other suspects, for $176 in bills at a Bangor grocery store.

The men, who were arrested Friday, were not asked to enter pleas because they have not yet been indicted by a Penobscot County grand jury.

The men are scheduled to appear in court again on June 10.

District Court Judge Bruce Jordan set bail at $25,000 cash for each defendant — the amount recommended by the prosecutor due to the nature of the crimes and the men’s criminal histories.

“It is an extremely dangerous person who will take the risk to commit this kind of crime — breaking into homes in the middle of the night,” Jordan said in setting the high cash bail. “Twenty-five thousand dollars is very reasonable.”

Bail conditions include the men not having contact with each other and three others whom Stephen Burlock, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, described as suspects in the case.

One of them, Courtney Braley, 18, of Bangor, was arrested with Cushman and Cressey but has not been formally charged by the district attorney’s office. The Bangor Daily News is not naming the others because they have not yet been arrested.

Braley is Cressey’s girlfriend and is five months pregnant, according to Joe Belisle, who acted as his attorney Tuesday.

The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday, when it announced that Cushman and Cressey had been arrested, that it expected more charges would be filed against the men and that other arrests were expected.

If convicted, the men face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 on the Class B charges. They face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 on the Class C crimes. They also could be ordered to pay restitution to victims.

Trio arrested in connection with rash of break-ins in Orrington, Veazie

Posted April 19, 2014, at 2:54 p.m.

William Cushman

PHOTO COURTESY OF PENOBSCOT COUNTY JAIL
William Cushman

Randall James Cressey

PHOTO COURTESY OF PENOBSCOT COUNTY JAIL
Randall James Cressey

BANGOR, Maine — Three people have been arrested in connection with home invasions last weekend in Orrington and Veazie, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.

William Cushman, 22, of Brewer, Randall Cressey, 23, and Courtney Braley, 18, both of Bangor were arrested Friday in connection with five burglaries in Veazie and four in Orrington on April 11.

Information about the number of charges filed against each suspect was not released.

Cushman and Cressey remained Saturday at the Penobscot County Jail.

A joint investigation by the sheriff’s office and Veazie police led officers to the arrests, according to a news release issued by the sheriff’s office.

Some of the stolen items were recovered, including a missing firearm from a Veazie residence, Chief Deputy Troy Morton of the sheriff’s office said in the release.

The case remains under investigation, he said.