Man Pretends to be Police Officer – Scams Victims out of $50k

November 8, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Theft/Property Crimes

A man accused of committing multi-state scams acting as a Broward County law enforcement officer has now been arrested. The alleged scammer managed to get over $50,000 from residents after falsely claiming to be an officer.

This article will provide details of the case, along with helpful information on unlawful possession of personal identification information and impersonating a police officer in Florida.

What was the Incident?

Raquan Hardy, 25, has been arrested and charged with 21 counts in relation to a phone scam in which he pretended to be a police officer. According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), police began an investigation into Hardy in early September.

The case began in Florida after a scam phone call had a spoofed BSO Courthouse Control Room phone number. Spoofing can involve disguising a phone number to look like the victim is interacting with a known or trusted source. The alleged scammer told victims they had outstanding charges they had to pay or else they would be arrested.

“The scammer informed victims that there were active warrants for their arrest,” said BSO spokesperson Carey Codd. “The scammer told victims that they needed to pay a surety bond in cash through a bail bond company to avoid arrest on outstanding charges. The arrest warrant did not exist.”

Investigators reported that there were four victims in the case, who handed over more than $50,000 to Hardy between September 7th-10th. There were over twenty reports about the scam calls, most of them female medical professionals.

BSO’s Dania Beach District and Public Corruption Unit detectives joined forces for the investigation. The detectives found that similar crimes had happened recently in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The investigation also revealed that Hardy had been in South Florida only days prior to the scams. The authorities tried to locate Hardy in South Florida, but he had already fled the state.

Hardy wasn’t tracked down by police until he reached Dallas, where he was stopped during a traffic stop and arrested on a warrant for similar crimes from Pennsylvania. After getting arrested in Texas, Hardy was extradited to Pennsylvania.

A Broward County judge signed an arrest warrant for Hardy and the crimes committed in Florida on October 19th, 2022. Hardy is currently facing 21 charges in relation to the phone scam. The charges include an organized scheme to defraud, grand theft, impersonating a law enforcement officer, extortion, and criminal use of personal identification information. Hardy’s bond was set at $900,000.

BSO wants to remind citizens that they won’t ever call to ask for any personal information or money or to demand payment of a bond.

Unlawful Possession of Personal Information

Florida Statute section 817.5685 explains the definitions and penalties for the unlawful possession of the personal identification information of another person. The law defines “personal identification information” as any of the following:

  • Social Security Number
  • State or U.S. issued Driver’s License
  • Identification Number
  • Alien Registration Number
  • Government Passport Number
  • Employer or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Medicaid or Food Assistance Account Number
  • Bank Account Information
  • Credit or Debit Card Number
  • Medical Records

The law states that it is unlawful for any person to possess intentionally or knowingly any of the above pieces of information from another person. If the defendant has violated this law, the penalties can vary depending on how many victims there were in the case.

A defendant accused of violating this law while possessing the personal identification information of four or fewer persons can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year in prison, and up to one year of probation.

If the defendant was accused of violating this law and in doing so possesses the personal identification information of five or more persons, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison, and up to five years of probation.

Impersonating a Police Officer in Florida

As codified under Florida Statute 843.08, it is illegal for an individual to impersonate State and Federal employees such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, or officers in the Department of Corrections, to name a few.

False impersonation is defined as when a person falsely assumes or pretends to be a law enforcement officer and while acting as a law enforcement officer requires any other person to help or assist them in a matter that would pertain to the duties of any such officer.

Impersonating a police officer can result in getting charged with a third-degree felony in Florida. A third-degree felony has penalties of up to a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison, and five years of probation.

If the individual impersonating a law enforcement officer does so while committing or attempting to commit a felony, then the charges and penalties are enhanced. This type of violation results in a second-degree felony in Florida. A second-degree felony has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine, up to fifteen years in prison, and fifteen years of probation.

The charges can be enhanced yet again if the person impersonating the law enforcement officer does so during the commission of a felony which results in the serious injury or death of another person. This type of violation results in a first-degree felony in Florida. A first-degree felony has penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to thirty years in prison.

To read more about impersonating an officer and examples of cases, find our page here.

What is Spoofing?

According to the FBI, spoofing is a crime in which a person disguises their email address, phone number, website, or sender name to scam other individuals. Spoofing can be as simple as changing information by just one number, letter, or symbol. The goal of spoofing is to convince the victim that the person they are interacting with is a trusted, reliable source.

The FBI lists the following ways for citizens to protect themselves from spoofing:

  • Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence
  • Be careful of what is being downloaded on your device; never open an attachment from someone you do not know
  • Set up a two-factor authentication on any account that will allow it
  • Don’t click on any unsolicited emails or text messages
  • Remember that companies do not generally contact you for personal information including usernames or passwords

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one are accused of a crime, we advise seeking legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee, FL. Getting convicted of a criminal charge can have lifelong effects, such as paying off expensive fines and potential imprisonment. Don’t leave your freedom up to fate—contact Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm. We’ll work with you to build a strong defense for your case. Contact us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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