Fraudster impersonated California Highway Patrol officer

Elderly San Diego couple were targets of a scam

It was a warm, pleasant morning in San Diego, about 11 a.m. last October, when Peggy got an upsetting phone call.

The man on the phone said he was Sergeant Perry with the California Highway Patrol. The sergeant told Peggy that her grandson had been in a traffic collision and he was being held in custody because his car insurance was lapsed. The sergeant put her grandson on the phone just briefly, but he was crying so much that Peggy couldn’t really communicate with her grandson.

The sergeant told Peggy that she should send money via Western Union to the owner of the other vehicle, and then her grandson could be released with no police record. Peggy was given an address in New York, to which she was instructed to send $2,400.

Peggy’s husband Norman helpfully went to a Western Union office to send the money the same day, October 23, 2012. But there were difficulties completing the transaction, so husband Norman returned home. The elderly couple was able to call back Sergeant Perry because his telephone number was captured in their “caller ID.”

Sergeant Perry then directed Norman to send the money through a nearby Walmart, using a service called “MoneyGram.” The husband went to a Walmart on Murphy Canyon Road and arranged the money transfer. But two hours later, Sergeant Perry phoned again and said there was a problem with the vehicle owner getting the money because of “an identification issue.” The Sergeant told Norman to call a certain telephone number to instruct a person there to “release” the money.

About this time, husband Norman got the idea to phone his grandson’s wife. She told grandpa Norman that his grandson was safe at home. Norman immediately went to Walmart and cancelled the money transfer and got his money refunded to him.

A genuine California Highway Patrol officer, named Jason Shelter, is investigating the attempted fraud. Officer Jason Shelter, who has been with the CHP since 2000, requested a search warrant to track the MoneyGram transaction and obtain security video surveillance at the transaction locations, to learn the identity of the fraudster.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski signed the search warrant order December 18, 2012.">" alt="Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski. Photo Weatherston.">">Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski. Photo Weatherston. by Eva Knott

Image: Investigator Jason Shelter said a fraudster impersonated a CHP officer. Photo Nick Morris.


Jason Shelter, the Keystone Kop, is on the case, the perps are home free!

These frauds seem to obvious to observers, yet many folks fall for them. "Elderly" people seem to be the victims of choice, maybe because years ago, in a more orderly world, you could believe things you were told, especially of they were coming from cops. This perp was pretty clever in that he made them think that he actually had their grandson there and put him on the phone. The obvious first step the old couple should have taken was to call the grandson's wife and advise her. If they had done that, the whole thing would have been over. Happily they are not out the money. I'll betcha this perp didn't leave any sort of image on surveillance. He may have picked a spot that has no such camera or very poor records.

So, SurfPup, what do you know about Jason Shelter? You must have a story to share.

A cautionary tale. Call your loved one first. Trust but verify.

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