Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr., announced that two suspects were arrested in connection with a false promotional activity that targeted more than 2,500 New Orleans police officers, Orleans Parish Sheriffs’ deputies, firefighters and emergency personnel, Jefferson parish police and sheriffs’ officials, as well as state and federal law enforcement personnel.
The suspects, posing as Salvation Army volunteers, allegedly convinced local police officers to sign up for debit vouchers worth $5,000 each. The suspects told the law enforcement officers they were eligible to receive the money as victims of the disaster and that the project was being sponsored by the global media company Viacom Inc.
The imposters set up a registration table behind Harrah’s casino in New Orleans and convinced other unsuspecting Salvation Army volunteers to help them register more than 2,500 names and addresses. The suspects then set Sept. 20 as the date to distribute the $5,000 debit voucher cards. More than 1,500 police and emergency personnel lined up to receive the money. They then learned that the entire project was a scam and no money was going to be distributed.
“I was asked by New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass to investigate and we did immediately. My Investigations Division worked with Sheriff Harry Lee’s Detective Bureau throughout the night to bring these con-artists to justice. I am proud to say the two men who perpetrated this heartless scheme are now behind bars,” said Attorney General Foti. “To promise something to these men, some of whom have lost everything, and then take that hope away is truly one of the lowest things I have seen during this entire disaster,” General Foti added.
–Scott Benson – DOB 9/17/58 of Green Bay, Wisconsin charged with false impersonation and conspiracy to commit identity theft in excess of $5,000.00.
–Chris Armstrong – DOB 5/26/70 of Orlando, Fla. charged with false impersonation and conspiracy to commit identity theft in excess of $5,000.00
If convicted, Benson and Armstrong face a possible sentence of up to ten years in prison or fined up to $10,000 or both for conspiracy to commit identity theft and a fine of up to $100 or up to 90 days in prison for false impersonation.
Both suspects were arrested on Sept. 21 at 4:45am in Green Bay, Wis.
“This type of activity is intolerable by anyone and any organization, and we are grateful for the manner in which Attorney General Foti and local law enforcement have worked to ensure that the people responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” said Major Marshall Gesner, Incident Commander for The Salvation Army’s Hurricane Katrina response.
Foti thanked the following agencies for their overwhelming response and assistance in this matter: Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee and the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs’ Department, and the Green Bay, Wisconsin Police Department.
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