Politician’s name used in phone scam

Posted July 21, 2009, at 8:21 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:03 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A credit card scam that first surfaced in June is continuing, according to Lt. Christopher Coleman of the Maine State Police, with two new incidents reported last week.

The scam involves a male telephone caller identifying himself as state Sen. Kevin Raye of Perry and asking for money for veterans. Police say it is an attempt to get bank and credit card information by scam artists.

Raye reported the scam to police in early June when a woman from Charlotte alerted him that someone was using his name to solicit donations for veterans.

Local media also carried the story and Coleman said it is unclear whether the calls stopped because of the publicity or if coincidentally no one brought new complaints forward.

Last week, however, two more fraudulent calls were reported, in Alexander and Eastport.

The case took an interesting turn Monday when Raye said he received a telephone call from one of the victims.

“I received a phone call late this afternoon from one of the two local women I heard from within the past few days,” Raye said. The woman had asked for the caller to send her some information by mail. “In today’s mail, she received an envelope to send her pledge contribution to the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 5630, Augusta, ME 04332. She says the mailing has all the appearances of a legitimate organization.”

A telephone call on Tuesday to the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was answered by a recording. A message left on the recording was not returned.

Raye said he alerted the investigating state trooper and also did a bit of detective work on his own.

“I Googled the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation and found a number of references to scams related to this organization and actions taken or warnings issued by various states,” he said. “There were several references to them falsely referencing themselves as veterans, but I didn’t see another one where there were reports that they claimed to be elected officials.”

Raye said the group has run afoul of the law in Washington, Nevada, Oklahoma and Missouri.

“It appears to be a legitimate group that has hired some undesirable elements to do its fundraising,” he said.

Raye found that the post office box used by the group in Augusta is also the address for a group called the Breast Cancer Relief Foundation:

“I’m not sure what that means,” he said, “except that it seems odd two such disparate national organizations would share a post office box in Augusta, Maine.”

Raye said he fully expects that, depending on the state police investigation, the Attorney General’s Office also should be looking at this group.

Coleman said that anyone receiving such a call could help police trace it, even if their caller ID does not identify who is placing it.

Coleman said that once the calling party terminates the call, the resident should press star (*) 57.

“This marks the call and allows us to trace it,” Coleman said. After pressing star (*) 57, the resident should hang up and call investigating Maine State Trooper Jason Fowler at 800-432-7381.

bdnpittsfield@myfairpoint.net

255-0618

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