A Lancaster man allegedly posed as a police officer for years and scammed a couple out of as much as $200,000 by promising to help their estranged relatives, who he claimed were imprisoned for drug charges, according to a release from the Lancaster County District Attorney's Drug Task Force.
The scheme reportedly fell apart when the couple saw one of the supposedly jailed relatives walking free on the street and called the real police.
Investigators said Wilson Alvarez Rodriguez, 56, had identification resembling that of a police official, drove an unmarked white 2004 Ford Crown Victoria with a black spotlight on the front and radio antenna on the trunk and constantly discussed investigations he was supposedly working on.
He allegedly had at least one business owner in Pequea Township fooled. The victim contacted police on Aug. 1. and said that Rodriguez, who he thought was a Drug Task Force officer, had been requesting goods and services from his shop for years and never paid for them.
The business owner became suspicious when Rodriguez's alleged scam escalated. He said that starting last July, Rodriguez told him and his wife that some of their relatives had been arrested for drug possession and offered to get one of them out of trouble – for a price.
After the business owner and his wife gave Rodriguez several thousand dollars, he allegedly approached them again and said that a relative who remained in jail had amassed a large amount of property, cash and vehicles worth millions of dollars from illicit activities. Police said Rodriguez told the couple that he would make sure they got those assets when the drug case was over if they continued to pay him. The couple gave him as much as $200,000, investigators said.
Rodriguez was arrested Friday afternoon by the Drug Task Force – whose officers he allegedly impersonated – when he attempted to leave the couple's business with another $3,000 they had given him, police said. Investigators recovered the cash along with fake NYPD paraphernalia and Rodriguez's car.
He is jailed at the Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bond. Authorities have not released the identities of the couple or their business.