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Phonies, Scammers, and Maybe Worse: False Sex Offender Accusation

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The latest scam to hit my workplace is from people claiming to be from Verizon and wanting to examine our invoices (yeah, right). This comes on the heels of lots of other metro area (and countrywide I presume) phonies claiming to be authorized to check the wiring, the plumbing, the photocopier, and offering any other excuse that will give free, unmonitored, access to private spaces.

The law (and law enforcement) can’t do too much to stop these crimes from occurring before the fact, so use your common sense, ask to see ID, check with the source (that ID isn’t always legitimate), check with your employer. trust your judgment, and don’t let anyone unknown wander through private workspace. (Oh, and lock up your valuables and encrypt those computers for heaven’s sake.)

Here’s another variation – a cruel hoax that may also be surfing lightly in the presence of the ever-present vague anxiety that seems to exist among many people (where’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” when you need it?):

News story also here: Doorstep sex offender flyers are phonies

Fake handouts, complete with county logos, were distributed in Cedar Hills,” The Beaverton Valley Times, Jul 17, 2008:

Washington County sheriff’s detectives are asking for the public’s help in finding the person or people responsible for illegally distributing a phony sex offender notification in the Cedar Hills area.

Anyone with information or who received one of the fictitious sex offender flyers is asked to contact Det. Chuck Anderson, 503-846-2704.

Flyers which appeared to be an official notification of a “resident predatory sex offender” were left on people’s doorsteps in the middle of the night Sunday, June 29, and early Monday, June 30.

The flyers had a Washington County logo on them and listed the name of a man that is not a sex offender. The victim has never been arrested for any crime or been listed as a sex offender in any state.

“No government agency put it out – it was a private citizen,” said Sgt. David Thompson, sheriff’s office spokesman.

At this point, detectives don’t know what motivated the suspect or suspects to create and circulate such a damaging flyer around the Cedar Hills neighborhood where the victim lives.

It’s unknown how many of the inflammatory notices have been distributed.

“It’s very disturbing,” Thompson said. “This is a terrible thing to do to someone – to put that stigma on someone when it wasn’t true is horrible.”

Washington County officials want to make sure folks know that the flyer was not created by any official in Washington County or the Sheriff’s Office, and that the information contained within it is false.”

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