OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department this week is warning citizens about a current telephone scam targeting grandparents, parents and family members during which the suspects pretend to be under arrest and in need of assistance.
The scam, which is fairly common, has several variations, but in the end involves a loved one who is in trouble and needs help getting out of an embarrassing or harmful situation, according to the OCPD. Typically, the scammer will call the victim and claim to be their grandchild, child, niece or nephew, depending on what level of information they have on the family.
The scammer will tell the family member that they are in trouble, indicating that they have been arrested and are in jail, and need help. In some cases, another scammer will interact with the victim via telephone, claiming to be a lawyer, a bail bondsman, a deputy or an official from a jail to further convince the victim the scam is legitimate.
The scammer will then request money, sent to a Western Union office out of the area, in order to get them out of jail or whatever harmful situation the scam presents. Ocean City Police have learned that scammers are accessing family knowledge, usually gained from the Internet, to make the scam more convincing.
In addition, unlike most scams, the scammer does not have a foreign accent, but often doesn’t resemble the voice of their family member. Often times, the scammers will blame the phone line or an illness that is making them sound different on the phone.
The Ocean City Police Department is reminding citizens to never wire money to strangers or someone you haven’t met in person. Requests to wire money overseas or to Canada are “red flag” signs of a fraud. Anyone who gets a phony contact from another family member, a trusted friend is urged to contact their local police department, which can help evaluate the situation and try to contact a loved one.
More Tipsy Taxi
Suspects Rounded Up
OCEAN CITY — More suspects indicted early last month after the Ocean City Police Department’s two-year drug distribution investigation utilizing an undercover officer posing as a taxi cab driver and owner have been rounded up in the last two weeks with a handful still at large.
In February, the OCPD announced it had concluded Operation Sand Dollar, a two-year undercover operation that featured an officer posing as a fully licensed cab driver and owner in order to infiltrate the resort’s drug distribution social circles. During the operation, the officer turned cab driver made some buys and sells out of the taxi, but also established connections that led to further indictments.
The operation was borne out of an idea to target known drug trafficking in the downtown area. After brainstorming, the OCPD came up with the idea of posing an undercover officer as the owner and operator of a legitimate cab company under the name “Tipsy Taxi.”
After conducting the operation for two years, the information collected was turned over to the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office and on Jan. 25, a Worcester County grand jury indicted 34 suspects on 91 counts of distribution of various controlled dangerous substances and 28 charges of conspiracy to distribute CDS. While the operation targeted all forms of CDS distribution, the focus was on the distribution of illegal prescription medication.
On Feb. 2, the OCPD narcotics unit, along with the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team, began rounding up the indicted suspects, resulting in 22 arrests. Four of those indicted were already in custody on unrelated cases, while nearly a dozen more were still at large.
In the weeks since, five more suspects indicted by the grand jury have been located and are now in the early stages of the prosecution process. For example, John Leo Parker, 57, of Bishopville, has been found and is in custody facing one count each of distribution of CDS and conspiracy to distribute CDS. Darryl Lee Whaley, 55, of Berlin, has also been found and appeared for a bail review last week. Prosecutors are seeking enhanced penalties on Whaley because of prior convictions.
Geraldine Woodland, 49, of Ocean City has also been located and had an initial appearance on Wednesday during which she pleaded not guilty to the charges against her including distribution of CDS and conspiracy to distribute CDS. Michael Rose, 54, of Ocean City has also since been located and faces seven counts of distribution of marijuana. Rose had an initial appearance this week and had his bond set at $200,000. David Allen Brown, 44, of Baltimore, was also arraigned this week and had his bond set at $150,000.
Couple Displaced by Fire
SNOW HILL — A Snow Hill couple was displaced last week after a fire at their residence attributed to unattended cooking last Thursday afternoon.
Last Thursday, the Snow Hill Volunteer Fire Company, assisted by the Newark, Stockton and Girdletree Fire Companies, responded to a reported residential fire on Public Landing Rd. First-arriving units reported heavy fire showing from the front of the residence. After the fire was brought under control, the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office conducted an investigation and determined the cause to be accidental. According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, the fire originated in the kitchen and was blamed on unattended cooking. The two residents were displaced by the afternoon blaze.
Lottery Scam Warning
OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department this week is warning local residents about a new phone scam involving a suspect or suspects claiming to be the representative of a lottery.
In this scam, the caller tells the victim that before they can claim their prize they must pay a series of transfer fees and taxes or provide proof of their identity and/or details of their bank accounts or credit cards in order to receive their winnings. The scammers, who require payment via Western Union or Money Gram, often obtain information about the victim to make the scam more believable. It is important to remember that scammers are able to easily access names and addresses of potential victims by spyware, viruses and other tools on the Internet.
The Ocean City Police Department is reminding citizens to beware of scams. Citizens are reminded they can’t win a legitimate lottery prize if they didn’t enter to begin with. Residents are also reminded to never wire funds via Western Union, Money Gram or any other wire service to someone they don’t know.
Citizens are also reminded to never pay to collect winnings. Legitimate lotteries do not require winners to pay first in order to collect a prize. Finally, if one holds a winning lottery ticket, they are required to notify the lottery company. Lottery companies generally don’t notify winners by phone, email or regular mail.
Whacks Mom over Sandwich
SALISBURY — A Mardela Springs man, who last spring called in a bogus bomb scare at Showell Elementary, was arrested on assault charges this week after allegedly punching his mother for eating his sandwich.
Around 6:42 p.m. last Sunday, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a residence in Mardela Springs for a reported domestic altercation. Upon arrival, the deputy learned the suspect, identified as Patrick E. McCready, 24, of Mardela Springs, had become agitated because someone had eaten his submarine sandwich.
When McCready learned it was his mother who had eaten the sandwich, he allegedly punched her with a closed fist. During the investigation, the deputy discovered signs of injury on the woman corroborating the assault. McCready was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was ordered held on a $30,000 bond.
Sunday’s incident was not McCready’s first anger management issue and brush with the legal system. Last April 7, Maryland State Police were notified of a possible bomb threat at Showell Elementary. School officials were notified and the administration and Board of Education members made the decision to evacuate the school.
The Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) responded along with Maryland State Police troopers and deputies from the Worcester County and Wicomico County Sheriff’s departments. Included in the response team was Wicomico County bomb detection dog “Gary” and his handler Deputy First-Class Jeff Heath.
A complete search of the interior and exterior of the school was conducted with nothing suspicious or threatening located. After a roughly two-hour search, the school was deemed safe and the students, teachers and staff returned to the building. A post-search investigation into the origin of the threat was conducted and based on a multi-jurisdictional search for evidence, law enforcement officials developed McCready as a suspect. McCready had been involved in a domestic dispute with his estranged wife, the mother of a student at Showell, the night before and made a veiled threat to blow up a classroom at the facility.
Armed Robbers Sought
SALISBURY — Salisbury Police this week are looking for two suspects who robbed a convenience store at gunpoint early Monday morning.
Shortly after 3 a.m. on Monday, Salisbury Police responded to the Royal Farms store on Snow Hill Rd. for a reported armed robbery. Employees told police two armed suspects entered the store minutes earlier, one of whom was brandishing a handgun and the other who was brandishing a military-style assault weapon.
Once inside the store, the suspect armed with the handgun allegedly told employees “I want the money,” and “give me the money,” while the second suspect pointed the assault rifle at employees. Both suspects went behind the counter and demanded the clerk open the safe. When the clerk was unable to open the safe, the first suspect grabbed a plastic bag from behind the counter and filled it with money from the cash register.
The suspects told the clerk to remain face down on the floor and to not move before fleeing on foot in an unknown direction. No injuries were reported. The first suspect is described as an African-American male, roughly 18-21 years old, around 5’7” with a thin build. At the time of the robbery, the first suspect was wearing a light gray, hooded sweatshirt, light blue jeans, dark shoes, gloves and a black cloth covering his face.
The second suspect is described as an African-American male, roughly 18-21 years old wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, white shoes and a black cloth covering his face. Anyone with information is urged to call Salisbury Police at (410) 548-3165, or Crime Solvers at (410) 548-1776.
Prescription Forger Busted
SALISBURY — A Princess Anne man was arrested on drug charges last week after allegedly attempting to obtain oxycodone from a Salisbury pharmacy with a fraudulent prescription from a doctor’s office.
Around 5:25 p.m. last Wednesday, Salisbury Police responded to the Community Pharmacy on South Salisbury Blvd. for a report of a suspect attempting to pass a forged prescription from a nearby doctor’s office to obtain oxycodone. The officers arrived and arrested a suspect, later identified as Kerry Tremonte Flagg, 42, for attempting to obtain prescription medicine by fraud.
The investigation revealed Flagg had attempted to pass a prescription obtained somehow from a Salisbury doctor’s office. The pharmacy owner contacted the doctor’s office and determined the prescription had not been administered to Flagg and was fraudulent. Flagg was charged with attempting to obtain oxycodone with a forged prescription and attempting to obtain the drug by fraud.