A man impersonating a Lumpkin County sheriffs deputy reportedly conned a student out of cash at the Dawson County campus of Lanier Technical College last week.
According to Dawson County Public Information Officer Tony Wooten, the impersonating officer pulled the student over and told him he needed to search his bag and personal items.
After finding cigarettes and snuff in the the bag, the man told the victim he was being cited for having tobacco on campusa $45 fine.
This citation stated that if the fine was not paid by the next day, the male student would be turned over to the Dawson County Police Department, Wooten said.
Lanier Tech is a tobacco-free campus, the schools website says, and students and employees may use tobacco products only inside their cars.
The suspect told the victim he could go ahead and pay the fine to him and that the suspect would turn the money in to the school. The victim gave the suspect $45.
According to the victim, the impersonating officer drove a car closely resembling a patrol car. Inside the car was a computer and printer that the man used to create the citation.
Real or fake cop?
Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said the suspect was reportedly wearing a five point star Lumpkin County badge.
But we dont have those, Jarrard pointed out.
Legitimate Lumpkin County officers display a seven point star with a circle around it, according to LCSO spokesperson Lt. Wesley Burnett.
Officers are typically in marked vehicles with blue lights and a siren, Burnett said.
He said officers wear a black and grey inform, approach a vehicle with their badge displayed on their belt and introduce themselves as a Lumpkin County Sheriffs Deputy.
Occasionally there are unmarked units that might make a stop, Burnett said, but they will display the correct badge.
Regarding the report that the suspect asked the victim to pay the fine in-person at the time of the stop, Burnett said a legitimate officer would never ask for a resolution of a fine on the roadside.
A risky proposition
Anyone attempting to make money by posing as a police officer is risking many serious charges.
In addition to the charge of impersonating an officer, Burnett said, this type of crime could also involve false imprisonment for stopping someone when they dont have the legal right to do so.
There might also be false arrest charges, plus theft by deception charges if a suspect were to successfully take money from a victim.
Even having blue emergency lights in the car requires a driver to posses the appropriate permit in their vehicle, Burnett added.
This has not been an extremely common crime in Lumpkin County, according to Burnett, with a couple of cases in the past several years.
In addition, most perpetrators do not have an authentic-looking uniform.
Any type of impersonating is unusually in plain clothes, Burnett said.
The suspect in last weeks incident was reportedly wearing a khaki shirt and was driving a white, unmarked, Ford Crown Victoria possibly equipped with interior emergency lights and had lightly tinted windows.
Wooten said the suspect was described as a white male, possibly in his 20s, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall.
As of press time, authorities had not yet made an arrest in the case.
Anyone who has information about the incident or who sees anything suspicious can call the Dawson County Sheriffs Office at 706-344-3636.