Crime

Vergennes Police Log for Oct. 12

VERGENNES — Vergennes police and Department of Homeland Security personnel are investigating a case in which a city woman was scammed out of about $81,000 by an individual police said was impersonating celebrated documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. Burns is noted for creating television documentaries on the Civil War, baseball and jazz, among other topics.

City police said they involved Homeland Security after being contacted by the victim on Oct. 4 because the crime crossed state and possibly international borders.

Police said the victim commented on Burns’s Facebook page and began exchanging comments with an individual who said he was Burns. Their method of communication changed to texting and then the use of What’s App, a private messaging and calling app that is advertised as secure. Eventually, they said, the victim met the individual in person and believed there was a romance.

She was told the person would start a $1 million foundation and give her videos if she provided the roughly $81,000 to him in Walmart and Visa gift cards. 

The case remains under investigation, police said, and they reminded residents to be wary of anyone asking to provide them with gift cards. Many scammers ask their victims for gift cards because once they are purchased they cannot be voided by the victim putting a hold on an account, and they are also easily used or resold.

In other action between Oct. 2 and 8, police conducted five cruiser and one foot patrols and seven traffic stops, fingerprinted five job applicants, responded to a false alarm, and: 

On Oct. 2:

• Responded to a two-car accident on Main Street.

• Offered advice to a woman who had accidentally been locked out of a house that she was taking care of for an absent relative.

On Oct. 4:

• Oversaw a Walk-to-School morning.

• Checked the welfare of a Collins Aerospace employee, who was determined to be OK.

• Heard from a Champlain Farms convenience store employee about a recent dispute with a customer over an EBT card, with the customer allegedly grabbing the employee’s wrist. Police are hoping to ID the customer through store video. 

• Provided the services of a department Drug Recognition Expert to Vermont State Police at the city station to evaluate a driving-under-influence suspect, whom VSP subsequently cited.

On Oct. 5, spoke to the parents of young drivers allegedly speeding on Meigs Road. 

On Oct. 6:

• Heard from Auto Creek on West Street that a representative of the business had caught someone rummaging through a scrap metal dumpster. The culprit claimed to be from Starksboro and to be looking for a brake drum. Police have yet to ID the individual.

• Heard from a Main Street resident that his dog had run away; it soon returned. 

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