Spotting an Impostor: Scammers Pose as Friends, Family and Government Agencies

It’s easy to think “It couldn’t happen to me.” But scammers know how to get around our better judgment. They play on our emotions or promise big payoffs to get us to act. And many use the names of government agencies like the FTC, trusted companies, or friends and family to get us to buy into their schemes. We may not be able to spot the impostor until it’s too late.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that scammers are posing as people, agencies and companies you know and trust. They may use phone calls, emails, letters, faxes or even text messages in their deceptions. To see past the disguise, you need to be alert to signs of an impostor scam:

DCF Calls Out Fake Food Stamp Website

DCF Calls Out Fake Food Stamp Website

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Division of Children and Families is calling a website that purports to help people apply for food stamps online a scam.

According to spokesperson John Harrell, is not a place for people to turn to online as a means to get food stamps.

In fact, Harrell said the DCF website,, is the only legitimate way for those who need assistance to get it.

"The problem and the danger is that they could be giving their personal information to people who could be scamming them out of money. This is of great concern to us at DCF because there's a lot of people who are suffering at this time economically. And there are websites that are taking money from people who don't have much to begin with," Harrell said.

New: Yard Man Caught Burglarizing Home

New: Yard Man Caught Burglarizing Home

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A man who reportedly told the people who hired him for yard work that he couldn't work Tuesday was arrested in that couple's home Tuesday.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, the alarm sounded at a home on Moses Creek Boulevard shortly before 5 p.m.

The first deputy on the scene saw a landscaping truck parked by the house and began searching the property.

The deputy reported no obvious signs of forced entry, but then saw a man wearing no shirt running inside the house.

The deputy waited until the man left the house, then ordered him to the ground until backup could arrive to complete the arrest.

Upon further investigation, deputies learned that 35-year-old Kevin Wayne Fralix had been hired by the residents for yard work, but said he hurt his foot and couldn't work that day.

He forced his way in through a patio window.

Possible 'Home Owner' Energy Audit Phone Scam

For well over a week now, a call comes in from 904-525-2895, a cell phone with a recording telling me about a free energy audit appointment I can set up and get $3,700 from a government program. I pressed one, as prompted, to ask a few questions about this free energy audit that was going to put $3,700 in my pocket (if I qualify).

Man Sentenced in Extortion Plot with St. Johns County

Man Sentenced in Extortion Plot with St. Johns County

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A man who pleaded guilty in an extortion plot of a Ponte Vedra man will not serve any more time in jail.

Judge Wendy Berger sentenced Jasmin Osmanovic in St. Johns County this afternoon to six years probation, according to Chris Kelly, spokesman for the State Attorney's Office.

His record will not reflect a guilty verdict against him, per the terms of his sentence.

Osmanovic also must pay $43,000 to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office in restitution, in $500 increments monthly. He has to pay $2,500 for the cost of prosecution and $418 in court costs, Kelly said.

Osmanovic changed his plea from not guilty to guilty in January 2010 in the case involving Quinn Gray and her husband.

Car Hopping Continues to be No. 1 Crime in St. Johns County

Car Hopping Continues to be No. 1 Crime in St. Johns County

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla.  -- It only takes a split second for a "car hopper" to get in and steal your valuables.

"In St. Johns County, it's been our number one crime  for the past couple of years," said Sgt. Chuck Mulligan.

"Car hopping" is the term for walking through a neighborhood or parking lot checking to see if cars have been left unlocked.

"They don't want to set off car alarms," said Mulligan. "They don't want to start dogs barking by smashing windows, so where ever they can avoid actually breaking into a car with physical force, they will simply go car hopping."

If a thief gets into a car, he takes whatever he can find. 

"They're going to look for the easy targets, and so if you don't take that extra step to make sure that your vehicle is not an easy target, these individuals could visit you," said Mulligan.

Police reports from Feb. 22, 2011




The following was compiled from police reports collected from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office (SJCSO), St. Augustine Police Department (SAPD) and St. Augustine Beach Police Department (SABPD):




* Who: Barfield, John Randall, 48, Florahome. Charge: Contempt of court. (SJCSO)


* Who: Bass, James Lester, 45, Ponte Vedra Beach. Charge: Battery. (SJCSO)


* Who: Canty, Michael Anthony, 32, Palatka. Charge: Probation violation -- two counts. (Probation)

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