The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 28, 2014

Officials: Fundraising calls not from local law enforcement agencies

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Local law enforcement agencies are warning the public about calls from solicitors posing as officers and saying they are fundraising.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troop J Capt. Brad Shepherd said he has received two reports of people receiving calls from someone posing as a trooper.

He said the caller identifies him as Trooper Williams based at the troop located in Enid. The problem is, Shepherd said, he has no troopers with that last name.

“Any fundraising where they are identifying themselves as law enforcement officers is not valid,” Shepherd said.

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said his office also received complaints about solicitations, but not from Trooper Williams. The caller identifies himself as Deputy Randall.

“They were wanting these people to send money by PayPal or check to cover fines and costs on a warrant,” Niles said. “One, we don’t have a Deputy Randall with our agency, and two, we don’t do collections for fines or costs. The court clerk’s office does.”

The sheriff said a company called Aberdeen Collection Program handles the state of Oklahoma’s contract to handle warrants for failure to pay court costs. He said the company also uses the U.S. Postal Service to send written notices.

“They make phone contacts, but they also send something out in the U.S. mail,” Niles said. “If a deputy is calling someone about a warrant, it is to request they turn themselves in on a misdemeanor, usually as a courtesy call.”

Niles said any solicitations from his office usually contain a photograph of him or a letter along with his signature.

“If anyone does receive these calls, call the officer they believe generated, and call a supervisor,” Niles said.

Enid Police Department Chief Brian O’Rourke said his department has not received any complaints similar to those received by Niles or Shepherd.

“If anyone has any questions, please give us a call,” he said.

Some general rules to follow when dealing with solicitations:

• If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

• Always obtain independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.

• Do not agree to offers or deals straight away. Tell the caller you are not interested or you want to get some independent advice before making a decision.

• There are no get-rich quick schemes.

• Never send any money or give credit card or account information to anyone you do not trust.

• Check bank and credit card statements as you receive them. If you see a transaction you cannot explain, report it immediately to your bank or credit union.

• Do not share personal information with anyone unless you initiated the contact with them.