As the Travis County Sheriff's Office investigates daily reports in October of scammers impersonating officers to swindle residents out of money, the sheriff's office has arrested a Houston man who is accused of dressing like an officer and stealing thousands from a victim.
According to the Travis County Sheriff's Office, under the name Robert Rodriquez, Houston-native Ricky Cortez acted as a Travis County Police Officer in the “Travis County Hot Checks Division," and approached a man in the month of July. Cortez allegedly approached the man at his residence in a burgundy Chevy Lumina wearing a badge and holstered handgun. Authorities said Cortez told the man that he needed him to pay for two insufficient funds checks he had written in 2015. Cortez then allegedly instructed him to meet later in the day to collect payment.
On Oct. 12, a convenience store employee in Leander reported that he had been approached by a man who said he was a hot check investigator with Travis County. He identified himself as Robert Rodriguez and asked the clerk if there were any hot checks the store needed him to collect on.
Detectives were able to identify the impersonating officer as Cortez and executed a search warrant on his home and vehicle in Houston. On Nov. 2, Cortez turned himself in to authorities on charges of impersonating a public servant.
This arrest comes as the sheriff's office said they have received about three reports per day in the month of October from people who had either been victimized by a phone scam or who were reporting the scammer’s attempt to victimize them.
"On the low end, victims have been swindled out of $1000 - $1500," the sheriff's office said. "On the high end, some victims have lost as much as $8000. Scammers have targeted college students, the elderly, small business owners and most recently, physicians."
Authorities said the caller seeks immediate payment via gift card or money pack. People who receive a suspicious phone call from someone demanding payment are welcome to contact TCSO to verify the validity of that call before giving anyone money at 512-854-9770.