In March 2014, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office received numerous complaints from Bergen County residents in regards to a phone scam. Individuals posing as Bergen County Sheriff’s Officers called residents using a prepaid cell phone with a “201” area code and told them to provide credit card numbers and/or load money from their bank accounts onto prepaid debit cards in order to pay a fine in lieu of being arrested for either missing jury duty, or for an outstanding warrant.
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation into these scams which led investigators to a Georgia State Correctional Facility in Southern Georgia. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), along with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, and Hackensack Police Department were able to identify two conspirators, a Georgia State Correctional Officer, and an inmate from a State Correctional Facility in Georgia as two suspects in the Bergen County Phone Scams. After collaborating with Georgia Law Enforcement authorities, it was determined that this phone scam which is occurring in at least 11 other states, is being operated out of this southern Georgia State Prison.
Members of Georgia Law Enforcement have also been plagued with these scams along with citizens of eleven other states.
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Georgia Department of Corrections, Gwinnett County (GA) Sheriff’s Office, and Laurens County (GA) Sheriff’s Office, arrested two suspects; Clarinda K. Carter, a Correctional Officer at Wheeler State Correctional Facility in Alamo, Georgia, and Covian J. Camp, an inmate incarcerated at Autry State Prison in Pelham, Georgia.
“We believe that these two suspects collaborated to target Bergen County residents,” said Sheriff Michael Saudino. “I applaud the Detectives in our BCI unit for their diligence and hard work in tracking down the source of where these fraudulent calls were coming from. These are the first two arrests in a nationwide scam that we believe will lead to many more arrests in the coming months.”
Clarinda Carter waived extradition, and was transferred to the Bergen County Jail on Friday May 16th. Covian Camp remains incarcerated at Autry State Prison from a prior conviction.
They were each charged with two counts of Theft by Extortion, a crime in the second degree, and two counts of impersonating a Law Enforcement Officer, a crime in the fourth degree. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office maintains that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
A press conference will be held on Tuesday, May 20th at 2:00 p.m. on the steps of the Bergen County Courthouse.
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following departments for their cooperation in this investigation:
- Georgia Department of Corrections
- Gwinnett County (GA) Sheriff’s Office
- Laurens County (GA) Sheriff’s Office
- Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
- Hackensack Police Department
Anyone who believes they may also have been exposed to this or a similar type fraud is asked to contact either the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office at 201-646-2222, www.bergentip.com, or your local police department.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding jury duty, please refer to the Bergen County Superior Court Jury Management Office at www.judiciary.state.nj.us/juryreporting/bergen, or contact the jury office at 201-527-2290.