An inmate and a corrections officer from a Georgia prison have been charged with operating a phone scam that targeted Bergen County residents and people in 11 other states across the US, the Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino announced in a release Monday morning.
According to the release, the Sheriff’s Office began investigating reports of scam calls from residents throughout the county who claimed someone using a prepaid cell phone with a 201 area code called requesting payment of a fine in lieu of being arrested for either missing jury duty or for an outstanding warrant.
Investigators from the county and Hackensack worked with authorities in Georgia to trace the calls to a state correctional facility in southern Georgia, authorities said.
Clarinda K. Carter, a Correctional Officer at Wheeler State Correctional Facility in Alamo, Georgia, and Covian J. Camp, an inmate incarcerated at Autry State Prison in Pelham, Georgia, were arrested in connection with the scams, Saudino said in the release.
The two were charged with two counts of theft by extortion, and two counts of impersonating a law enforcement officer, the Sheriff’s Office said. Carter was transferred to the Bergen County Jail, and Camp remains in the Georgia prison, the release said.
“We believe that these two suspects collaborated to target Bergen County residents,” Saudino said in the release.
“These are the first two arrests in a nationwide scam that we believe will lead to many more arrests in the coming months.”
The Sheriff’s Office is planning a press conference Tuesday to discuss the scam and the arrests.
Anyone who believes they may also have been exposed to this or a similar type fraud is asked to contact either the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office at 201-646-2222, www.bergentip.com, or a local police department.