LOS ANGELES – A man is in custody and a woman is being sought for a scam in which they allegedly pretended to be from government agencies and threatened victims with arrest if they didn’t pay a bribe.
Nicolas Brady Kennedy was arrested on an unrelated warrant and Ashley Marie Walker is being sought, said Chief Patrick Nelson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Detective Division.
The Georgia-based suspects have been charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office with counts of extortion or attempted extortion, Nelson said.
“This particular type of scam has been around for some time,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, they’re still having some success in using it.”
According to Nelson, in March and April of this year, the suspects called people — many of them elderly — and falsely claimed to be from a government agency like the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department or the Social Security Administration. Some respondents were told there was an arrest warrant for them for failure to report for jury service.
The scammers would claim that there was a warrant for the victim’s arrest, but they could “fix” the warrant by being paid money in the form of gift cards, Nelson said.
Six known victims paid the scammers a total of more than $16,000. Three other potential victims did not pay, even after being pressured, Nelson said.
Legitimate agencies will not demand such payments, Nelson said.
Nelson said investigators believe there are other suspects involved in the scam and there are other possible victims, and he urged them to call the sheriff’s department.