MACCLENNY, Fla. – The Department of Children and Families issued an alert Thursday about a man in Baker County impersonating a DCF investigator.
The Baker County Sheriff's Office sent out a Be on the Lookout order to its deputies to locate and identify the impersonator, who is described as an older white male with gray hair, gray mustache and very heavyset.
According to DCF, the man has been seen in a small powder blue car several times over the past few days across from the Baker Manor apartment complex. The man showed an employee at the complex a badge that said "Department of Children and Families" on it and claimed he was watching children to conduct surveillance because of reported child abuse.
"That is not something that DCF would do," explained DCF spokesman John Harrell. "What we actually do is we would go interview parents, interview children, interview other people who may know families, as part of an investigation, but we would not just do surveillance."
Tiffany Barton lives at Baker Manor apartments and said she and many other residents have seen the man sitting across the street in his care at for hours at a time.
"He was there night before last until about 8:30 he left," Barton said. "He even turned on his headlights the other night, right as it got dark, and he just sat there. He was out there for at least 5-6 hours. He sat across the street."
The man was also seen sitting in a car in the parking lot of a building that was once used by DCF and identified himself to a Children's Medical Center employee as a DCF investigator.
DCF urges anyone with additional information on this impersonator to contact the Baker County Sheriff's Office at 904-259-0237.
In its news release, DCF pointed out that there have been several incidents of people impersonating DCF investigators around Florida over the past few years. In Jacksonville, a baby was kidnapped by a person who claimed to be a DCF investigator four years ago. The baby was recovered by local law enforcement, and the kidnapper received an 18-year prison sentence.
DCF offered the following tips to help people verify if someone is a Child Protective Investigator with DCF:
- Along with name and ID number, DCF investigator badges contain a QR code that can be scanned with a smart phone. Scanning the code will result in a call to the Florida Abuse Hotline; at that time, a person can verify the identity of that DCF investigator.
- The badges also contain holograms of the State of Florida's seal and the DCF logo to prevent them from being duplicated.
- Child Protective Investigators are required to show the ID badges whenever they identify themselves.
- Anyone who need to confirm the identity of a DCF investigator can call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or contact the investigator's supervisor.