On January 6, 2014, Detective Todd Swaim was recognized by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Mascher for his work involving an October 2013 fraud case. The investigation began following a request from the Wheatland Police Department in Wyoming to assist with follow-up involving a Publishers Clearing House scheme.
Initially the detective was told that a resident in Wheatland had been scammed out of $7500 she paid believing it was a necessary step to claim winnings of $1,500,000 from Publishers Clearing House. The suspect in this case, who identified himself as a claims agent for Publishers Clearing House, instructed the resident to send a check to an address in Cordes Lakes, Arizona, to pay an “income tax declaration” on her prize. Police in Wheatland asked Detective Swaim to track down the check and any potential suspects.
Working with a local bank, detective Swaim found the Cordes Lake resident who had received the $7500 check from the victim in Wheatland. This local resident was 86-years-old and the detective determined she was being used by the suspect to “launder” money as part of the scam. The elderly resident, unaware of the overall scheme, was instructed to deposit checks with the understanding she could keep certain amounts after forwarding the balance in check form to another individual. At this time, it is unknown how the suspect chose the elderly resident.
As the investigation continued, the detective discovered that the Cordes Lakes resident had also received a $14,850 check from a person in Colorado. After contacting Colorado law enforcement, the detective learned their resident was another scam victim who had already lost $40,000 as part of the scheme. The detective was able to locate this original $14,850 check and notify Colorado authorities that an earlier attempt to deposit the check had been declined by a Prescott Valley bank.
Due to the detective’s rapid and thorough investigation, he prevented the loss of over $22,000 to these 2 out of state victims. The primary suspects are likely operating outside the US.
Please remember, legitimate sweepstakes winners are NEVER required to pay money up front to claim their prize.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov