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The Daily Tar Heel

Men Scam Woman Out of $12,600

The incident started about 11 a.m. Wednesday, when the woman received a telephone call from a man who identified himself as Mr. Bradley.

According to a press release, the man told the woman that someone had attempted to cash a $5,000 check from her bank account.

Reports state that the man then requested that the woman help him track down the suspect by cashing a check for $5,600 at the University Mall branch of her bank, reports state.

The woman was instructed not to tell anyone what she was doing.

After cashing the check, the woman was met in the mall parking lot by a man, who identified himself as Mr. Prescott. The man showed the woman something resembling a police badge, and she handed over the money, the woman told officials.

The woman then returned home. Chapel Hill Police Lt. Marvin Clark said she received another call from Bradley shortly thereafter. Bradley told her they needed another check for the investigation, reports state. This time the woman cashed a $7,000 check at the East Franklin Street branch of her bank. She returned to the University Mall parking lot, where she handed the money over to Prescott, reports state.

The incident took place in a matter of hours and ended around 3 p.m., when the woman telephoned the police.

According to the press release, the woman described Prescott as a white male, between 5 foot 8 inches and 5 foot 10 inches tall. He has brown hair that was parted in the middle. He was wearing a wool, tweed sport coat.

Officials have been working with agencies both on the state and local levels to inform residents about the incident.

"We're going into all the community centers to let them know about it," said Art Englebardt, a crime prevention specialist.

But Englebardt said that unfortunately this type of fraud will persist as long as people leave themselves vulnerable.

"(Criminals) target the elderly, basically, who are a little bit more vulnerable," he said. "All we can do is warn people about certain things."

Englebardt said residents can protect themselves against potential scams. "For instance, no bank will ever ask a person to help them catch (criminals)."

Other protective measures include asking to see a badge if someone identifies himself as a police officer or even calling the police station to verify the claim.

Clark said the next step of the investigation is to create a composite sketch of the suspect and find any witnesses around the mall during the time period.

"The main thing at this point is to do the investigation and track down who did it and make sure it doesn't happen again."

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