Traffic stop leads to $200,000 in gold bars from an elder fraud scheme, NY cops say

Deputies who pulled over a New York man on a traffic violation say they found gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wyoming County deputies stopped a 28-year-old resident of Queens, New York, on July 25 on a traffic infraction, they wrote in an Aug. 15 news release. The deputy had reasonable suspicion of a crime, according to the release, and the vehicle was searched. A backpack in the front seat was filled with $200,000 worth of gold bars, deputies said.

In the backseat, deputies found UPS packages with the address of a man in Orchard Park, New York, according to the release.

The driver said the gold bars did not belong to him, and he was released, the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators began looking into the incident, and they discovered the Orchard Park man was a victim of an elder fraud scheme, the release said. He said a person posing as a U.S. marshal contacted him and demanded payment to avoid arrest, deputies said.

“The person claimed a United States Marshal Courier would drive to the victim’s residence, and that the victim was to place gold bars of a certain value into the rear seat of the courier’s vehicle,” according to the news release.

Within an hour of the pickup, the man from Queens was pulled over. Deputies said the bars will be returned to the Orchard Park man.

During the investigation, deputies said they also found child pornography on a cellphone that the driver had, and a warrant was issued for the driver’s arrest.

Eventually, police in Passaic, New Jersey, arrested the man, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies in Wyoming County brought him back on Aug. 11, and he was arraigned in Warsaw Justice Court on charges of criminal possession of stolen property, possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child less than 16, and speed in zone, deputies said.

The man then was taken into the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to an arrest warrant and immigrant detainer issued by the Department of Homeland Security, deputies said.

Nearly 90,000 people over the age of 60 reported fraud to the Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2022, the agency said, resulting in $3.1 billion in losses.

“The Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office reminds the people of Wyoming County to be skeptical of any unsolicited phone calls where a person is asking for money or personal information,” deputies said. “Government agencies will never call a person offering to accept payment in exchange for avoiding arrest.”

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