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Frank Gray

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Kosciusko detective has eye on scammers

Cordero

It continues to appear that if you are the victim of a scam, you are out of luck – unless you live in Kosciusko County.

For years I’ve been writing about people who have been taken for sometimes thousands of dollars, and the only advice I’ve been able to offer victims is that they tell everyone they know, just so their friends are informed and don’t become victims, too.

Meanwhile, the philosophy has been that once your money is in the hands of a scammer, it’s gone.

Unless, that is, you live in Kosciusko County.

This week, a man who conned a Kosciusko County woman out of $4,000 is in deep trouble in Florida thanks to a detective with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, and regardless of how his case turns out, he’ll have a felony warrant waiting for him in Indiana.

The scam started when a Kosciusko County woman tried to sell a time share that she owned in Florida. The woman got a call from a man claiming to be with a company called Beverly Hills Title Services, supposedly based in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Over the course of several telephone conversations, Derick Cordero convinced the woman that he had found a buyer, but to close the deal she would have to pay more than $4,000 to cover title work and closing costs.

The woman complied, sending the money to Beverly Hills, then heard nothing more. Eventually she realized she’d been taken and contacted the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department.

A detective started snooping, subpoenaed some bank records and discovered that the woman’s payment had been forwarded to an address in Florida. The detective then obtained a copy of the check, signed by Cordero.

But the detective needed the help of police in Florida, so they staked out Cordero’s home and discovered he wasn’t just a scammer but a drug dealer. In his house, police found $30,000 worth of marijuana, all prepackaged and ready for sale.

Cordero is probably in a lot more trouble over the drug charges in Florida than the $4,000 scam, but the sheriff’s department in Kosciusko County vows to keep an active felony warrant for him.

This is the second time the sheriff’s department has busted a scammer. Last year, the same detective tracked down a man in New York who had filed a bogus tax return in a Kosciusko County resident’s name, collecting a fat, fraudulent return.

The detective, with the help of police in New York, showed up at that scammer’s front door, arrested him and hauled him back to Kosciusko County.

That particular scammer – who was in the U.S. illegally, by the way – was eventually fined, sentenced to time served in Kosciusko County and deported to Sri Lanka.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s department noted that all the travel involved in these cases isn’t paid for by taxpayers.

Those expenses are covered by an account that is funded by fees charged to people who are convicted of crimes.

Granted, the Kosciusko County detective has run down only two scammers, leaving about a million still on the loose. But maybe his methods will catch on elsewhere.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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