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Police share surveillance photos of suspects in gift-card scam


Lawrence police have shared local surveillance images of people suspected in a gift-card scam — one that preys on elderly victims — being investigated by out-of-state agencies.

The photos depict two people in a check-out lane and a black SUV outside. Lawrence police shared the images on social media Wednesday and asked anyone who knows who the people are to call police at 830-7441.

Lawrence police are helping out-of-state agencies in identifying suspects in the scam, which has targeted elderly victims and bilked them out of thousands of dollars, Officer Drew Fennelly said, in an email. This is how the scam works, according to Fennelly: Suspects contact the victim and claim to be a family member who is in jail. Suspects then ask the victim to send gift cards to their “family member” to help the person get out of jail.

“The major red flag in these scams is that no jail is going to take gift cards as payment to bond out, however senior citizens unfamiliar with the technology may not be aware of this, thus are more susceptible to the scam,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly said the suspect or suspects in a pair of incidents were connected to an unnamed local retailer. He said police obtained the photos from the retailer in hopes of identifying the people associated with the fraudulently obtained gift cards.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.


Louis Kannen 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I've often wondered why 'surveillance images' are of such poor quality, given the far superior resolution available with even the least expensive Cellphones these days.

Tristan Moody 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Two reasons: 1) the cameras don't get replaced all that often, so they're old, relatively speaking, and 2) unlike your cell phone, they are recording constantly. It's a tradeoff between resolution and data storage space, and multiple days of footage from multiple cameras, all operating at high resolution, will consume terabytes and terabytes of space. All that data has to be stored and backed up and made available upon demand.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I got one of these calls. I had heard of this scam and I had just talked to my grandson who lives in Topeka. I used my usual lines for these kinds of calls "Don't you think you should get a legal job, so you won't end up in prison. You will eventually get caught, you know. Stop now, before it's too late." Of course, I seldom get the whole thing out before I hear a "click".

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