Deputies assigned to our Investigative Services Division arrested two suspects yesterday in connection with a common phone scam. Warrants for a third suspect have also been obtained.
The investigation began February 26th when a citizen contacted the sheriff’s office to report that she had been victimized by a caller identifying himself as “Deputy Schaffer” with “the sheriff’s office” and informing her that there was a warrant for her arrest for failing to appear to a grand jury summons. The victim paid a total of $3,800 in rechargeable money cards, Western Union and MoneyGram wire transfers.
Reports of the grand jury phone scam are not new to the sheriff’s office. We began investigating numerous phone scam reports in 2014, prompting Sheriff Butch Conway to form a multi-jurisdictional task force to combat the problem. When it became apparent that the perpetrators of the phone scam were Georgia state prison inmates utilizing contraband cell phones to victimize unsuspecting citizens, the FBI began heading and coordinating the joint investigation, dubbing it “Operation Ghost Guard” and recently concluding with the arrests of over 130 suspects.
Yesterday Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested 22 year old Marissa Eastwood of Lilburn, charging her with Theft by Deception and 24 year old Chelsea Allyse Guevara of Lawrenceville, charging her with Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception. A warrant was obtained for 26 year old Nicolas Brady Kennedy, an Autry State Prison inmate, for Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception.
The Investigative Services Division Commander, Lt. Colonel Carl Sims, says, “We appreciate the timely assistance of the Department of Corrections Criminal Investigation Unit. They acted immediately upon our request, locating dozens of contraband cell phones in their facility. Their actions resulted in the immediate apprehension and transfer of Nicolas Kennedy to a maximum security facility and the recovery of evidence which will assist us in the prosecution of this case.”
Sheriff Butch Conway appreciates the diligent work of his investigators and the swiftness in which this case was investigated. “I don’t like seeing innocent people being victimized by anyone, but even less so by state prison inmates. They rob their victims of much more than money, they rob them of their sense of well-being. I am committed to doing everything within my power to stop them,” he says.
Sheriff Conway also asks that citizens speak to their elderly family and friends who may not utilize the internet or social media to ensure that they’re aware that no government agency will ask for payment of fines over the phone, especially using money cards or wire transfers.