PONTE VEDRA, Fla. – A McDonald’s in Ponte Vedra was the target of a scammer who appears to have made other calls around St. Johns County.
A scam artist is pretending to be a U.S. Marshal that threatens to shut down the business if it doesn’t comply with the investigation. In this case, the scammer said he was investigating counterfeit cash going in and out of the restaurant, according to a police report.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson says law enforcement officers will never call a business and tell its employees that it’s under investigation, especially a U.S. Marshal.
“The role of the marshal is to seek out fugitives," Jefferson said. "They don’t take on the role of detective for a law enforcement agency that goes out and investigate crimes that have been reported.”
Jefferson said the average person may not know the duties of a marshal and might easily fall for the scam.
“When they hear something as U.S. Marshals calling then that gets their attention, and these scammers know that," he said.
In this case, the report states, the scammer identified himself as Agent Michael Edwards, badge number 287061. Investigators said he even gave the restaurant manager the general information phone number to the U.S. Marshals office in Washington D.C to convince her that he was a real marshal.
After identifying himself, he told the manager to bring daily sales deposits to a nearby bank. St. Johns County deputies said the fake marshal threatened to shut down the restaurant if the manager didn’t comply with the investigation.
“A law enforcement agency is not going to tell you take money and drop it off somewhere or bring it somewhere," Jefferson said. "That’s the big red flag.”
The manager hung up the phone then called 911.
According to the police report, the investigating deputy noted that a search revealed dozens of similar incidents having been reported across the county.