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Police Warn of Social Workers

January 19, 2012 permalink

Authorities in Florida are warning parents over recent cases of impostors claiming to be social workers.

What's worse than a fake social worker? A real one.



DCF warns of investigator impostors

BRADENTON - Authorities across the state are warning of people posing as child protection workers.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says on Monday, someone went to a house and told the people there they were a child protection specialist with the sheriff's office.

But after the victim asked for identification, the suspect became nervous and fled the house in a vehicle, investigators said.

The victim contacted authorities, and now detectives say they’re looking for a white male who is likely 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 and who is 115 to 130 pounds.

He has brown hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a tan polo shirt, tan pants and a tan baseball cap.

The suspect was driving an older model, brown four-door Cadillac with dark tinted windows and no tags, investigators say.

If you have any information, detectives ask that you call the Bradenton Police Department at 932-9357.

Alicia Pearson says the red flags went up almost instantly.

"The guy knocked on my door and said he wanted to check in on my daughter and check my house. I told him, look I need to know who you are and who you're with," she said.

Pearson said the man told her he was with Child Protective Services, but she pressed him further.

"I told him no, I need to see your badge or some type of paperwork explaining who you are. He said 'no, I don't have to worry about that.' I told him 'if you don't hurry up and tell me who you are, I'm going to call the cops on you.' "

She did, and says that's when the man took off.

Bradenton police investigators believe it's an isolated case here, but say the man did try to get into the house.

"The suspect did attempt to enter the residence, where children were present," says Captain Warren Merriman, with the Bradenton Police Department.

Capt. Merriman says the victim had reason to be concerned.

"With the children in the residence, and she didn't believe this guy was with Child Protective Services."

Police do have a person of interest in the incident.

The Department of Children and Families said Wednesday that they have gotten three reports of people posing as DCF investigators in Panama City since the beginning of the year.

  • On January 2nd, a man called a house and left a voicemail for a woman there saying DCF had gotten reports that she was a drug dealer, and investigators would be coming to her house. She contacted DCF; there were no current or prior reports on her or her family.
  • On January 9th, a woman named "Isabella" posted on a man's Facebook page that there were reports his child was being neglected, and needed to be seen. The man contacted DCF; they said no complaint had been lodged against him.
  • On January 12, a man called DCF to report that a woman named "Jessica" left a voicemail on his former employer's phone. DCF said there were no investigations on him.

DCF says its investigators will never post allegations on a public website, including Facebook. They say investigators respond to complaints to their hotline immediately, in person, and without notice.

They say if you are contacted by someone representing DCF and want to verify the identity of an investigator, you can call the state Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-962-2873.

DCF says its investigators always carry proper identification, and must produce their credentials.

They say these cases are very alarming, unsure of what these people's motives really are.

"You have to assume they had something else in mind, which makes it all the more scary. These families are very vulnerable, if we are investigating a family, they obviously have some type of crisis, some reason for us to be involved," said Terry Field, with the Tampa DCF office.

Alicia was smart for demanding to see an ID.

"He had nothing to show me at all," she said.

Source: Fox Tampa Bay

Addendum: Latest Alice-in-Wonderland twist: one of the reports of fakery is itself a fake.



Bradenton police say woman admits to lying about fake CPS worker

BRADENTON -- A woman could be charged with lying to police when she told them that someone impersonating a child protective services worker had gone to her home, according to the Bradenton Police Department.

The 24-year-old woman told police that the imposter on Monday had gone to her residence in the 2600 block of Seventh Avenue West and tried to check on the welfare of a child. The man, according to the woman, claimed he was with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office's child protective services unit.

The woman has admitted "that she fabricated the entire incident due to some ongoing civil issues," police said in a statement.

A charge against the woman of filing a false report to law enforcement is pending.

Source: Bradenton Herald

Addendum: From another part of Florida, a DCF impostor flashed a badge to get possession of a baby girl. WESH aired January 20, 2012 (mp4).

beware of social worker