Scammers use Circuit Court Clerk to scam thousands from businesses
Surveillance photo of a man wante din connection with the calendar advertisement scam. (Source: Hardin County Sheriff's Offfice)
Deputy Bud Baumgardner
ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) - A man claiming to sell advertisements for a calendar stole tens of thousands of dollars from businesses in Hardin County then skipped town. Now, the sheriff's department is hoping you can help them find him and his accomplice.
There wasn't anything obviously suspicious about the man who Michael Moats handed his $100 check over to a few weeks ago.
"He was a regular guy," said Moats. "Just gave him my stuff."
The money was to put an ad on a calendar for Moats clown business, something he can't often afford to advertise.
"One hundred dollars is quite a bit for me, but sometimes you have to take a step of faith when you're trying to advertise your business," Moats said.
Another reason Moats agreed to give is because the Hardin County Circuit Court Clerk agreed first to have her picture on the calendar and use the proceeds for the charity of the office's choice.
"I knew they do have those calendars and I've seen them, so I didn't second guess it," said Moats/
Turns out it was all a scam said Hardin County Sheriff's Deputy Bud Baumgardner.
"He prayed on the good name of our circuit court clerk," said Baumgardner. "She's a fine lady and many people in the county love her, so when he would contact a business and say, 'this is for your circuit court clerk,' everyone was like, 'oh, yeah. Sure. I'd love to help.'"
The clerk had even looked into the man who said he was Mike Hall.
"She asked him what company he went through, so she actually researched that company," Baumgardner said. "It was a legitimate company out of Lexington that produces these calendars for other circuit court clerks. She's actually seen these calendars in other jurisdictions."
After she gave the go ahead to put the calendar together, he sent his accomplice around to collect the checks for advertisements from at least 35 businesses for a total of $20,000 to $30,000 which they cashed at a Marathon gas station in Lexington.
"He would endorse the check Hardin County Clerk or Hardin County courts," said Baumgardner. "No names. The checks would clear in Central Bank in Lexington."
When he started to show up a second time for more money for a second calendar, the clerk called.
"And said, 'cease and desist. Don't use my name. Refund all moneys collected. I don't want a calendar. I'm not sure this is above board.' He continued to collect some money after that and he split the area. He is on the run."
Baumgardner thinks he's likely taking checks from other businesses in other counties.
The man in the surveillance video is in his 20s or 30s, with brown hair and a thin build. He was driving a red S-10 pickup truck with damage to the driver's side door.
Baumgardner believes the same scam happened in Hart County and he has been in touch with Scott, Madison and Fayette Counties who are all looking into the pair as well.
If you know who they, where they are or think you're a victim, you're asked to call the Hardin County Sheriff's Office.
Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:12:13 GMT
The tattoo has not previously been seen widely by the public because cameras are not allowed inside Indiana courtrooms. The Indiana Office of the Courts released the photo on July 30 as part of evidence logged in by police and presented to the court by the Floyd County Prosecutor's Office.More >>
The tattoo has not previously been seen widely by the public because cameras are not allowed inside Indiana courtrooms. The Indiana Office of the Courts released the photo on July 30 as part of evidence logged in by police and presented to the court by the Floyd County Prosecutor's Office.