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Arrest made in local phone scams targeting seniors

One person is in jail and another is wanted in the scams that took thousands from local seniors.

MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA, Ala. — The Madison County Sheriff's Office announced that one person has been arrested and another is wanted in connection with phone scams that bilked seniors out of thousands of dollars.

Kino Roper, 26, is behind bars. Police are looking for the other suspect, Christopher Roper.

They said:

On October 10, 2021, Kino Deandre Roper, 26 was arrested and charged with multiple felonies as a result of these multi-agency investigations. He is currently at the Madison County Jail Facility. Investigators have identified a second subject wanted in connection with these scams, Christopher Roper, 30. Kino Roper faces three counts of Theft by Deception 1st with bonds of $90,000. Agencies recovered $166,000 cash in connection with the arrest of this individual. 

Kino Roper and his associates have a network of individuals who, through extortion and fraud, induced elderly citizens across north Alabama and surrounding counties to pay thousands to tens of thousands of dollars each to purportedly help their relatives in need of assistance while preying on their concerns for loved ones.

Sheriff Kevin Turner stated, “We take crimes against the elderly seriously here in Madison County. These scams have left citizens financially and emotionally devastated and we are committed to investigating, locating, and prosecuting those individuals who take part in such schemes that target and prey on our elderly. I want to personally thank the men and women who worked tirelessly to bring this individual to justice.”

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, Secret Service, Athens Police Department, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Huntsville Police Department, Homewood Police Department, and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone who believes they were a victim of this scam is urged to contact your local agency and report it. These multi-agency investigations continue and more arrests are expected.

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Scammers are always looking for new ways to separate people from their money, and a new scam is targeting Madison County seniors.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office says that over the last few days, scammers have targeted elderly citizens here in Madison and Morgan Counties and taken them for approximately $200,000. A spokesperson for the sheriff's office says, "These criminals are targeting the most vulnerable and depleting them of their life savings. Reports that we are seeing as of recent is that the callers are calling family members that have been involved in motor vehicle accidents or some high profile incident. The criminals are requesting money that will go directly to bonding agencies to assist with the family matters as well as other legal costs associated with the incident."

Investigators say that in the recent local cases, In these particular cases, the scammers will request bank account information and trick elderly victims by claiming they will use it to deposit money into your account for various reasons, or they'll tell them an Uber driver will come to their residence to collect fees to settle issues.

Other similar scams investigator are seeing are criminals calling and claiming to be with some organizations (such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, IRS, Social Security, a Law Enforcement Agency, a Bank, etc.). The scammers claim your computer/smartphone was hacked, or you have a warrant out for your arrest, or you won a prize, or your social security number was stolen, or you owe the IRS money. They may impersonate a law enforcement officer or a utility worker and call from a number that appears to be from a legitimate organization. 

According to officials, this approach is being used to get victims, very emotional, either scared or excited, hoping that they will lose judgment long enough for them to complete their scheme. In many cases, the scammers will ask you to purchase some type of gift card. DO NOT be a victim of these scams. Just hang up and notify your local law enforcement agency.

RELATED: Police warn of Social Security phone scam

So, now that you know what you're looking out for - how can you protect yourself?

Well, for starters, you should be wary of calls from strangers claiming that money or gift cards are urgently needed to help a family member

Understand that most offers that sound too good to be true - are too good to be true

Take notice of any unusual payment requests, such as asking for wired funds or payments from prepaid debit cards. Legitimate law enforcement agencies will never demand these.

Another tip: If the scammers claim to be from a law enforcement agency, the person receiving the telephone call should ask the name of the agency, hang the phone up, then look up the agency telephone number to check the legitimacy of the caller.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind you of this very important fact:

Legitimate law enforcement agencies will not demand any money, gift cards, or something of value be sent for the phone calls from law enforcement to go away. If you receive a call to you feel may be suspicious, do not provide personal or banking information. We ask that you simply hang up and contact your local law enforcement directly to report this crime if you are a victim or know of anyone who is a victim.

For even more tips on how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, click here.

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