Police: People ripped off by woman claiming to work for MIFA - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Police: People ripped off by woman claiming to work for MIFA

By Lori Brown - bio | email

Memphis, TN (WMC-TV) - MLGW users need to be on alert for a scam artist using an outreach organization. Police say the scam artist preyed upon a number of people desperate to pay their MLGW bills.

People with good intentions ended up spreading the word about the so-called "help" to their friends. The scam was elaborate enough that by the time the victims found out about the trick, it was too late.

A woman who needed help with her MLGW bill thought she'd found the answer last month. According to a Bartlett police report, Sue Campbell's own co-worker provided the recommendation for the person who turned out to be a scam artist.

"A co-worker told her that Ms. Angela Smith knew a person who works for MIFA, and could help her with her MLG&W bill," the report says.

The police report goes on to say that Campbell's boyfriend met Angela at the McDonalds on Stage and gave Angela $330 in cash. Turns out Smith was a victim herself.

Smith told me over the phone she initially thought a woman who called herself "Tiana" had helped her with her MLGW bill. Smith told me she then went on to tell two of her friends that they too could get help. What police say happened is a scheme familiar to MLGW spokesperson Chris Stanley.

"Say you owe six hundred dollars. They'll say hey if you give me half of that, I'll go and get the funds for the other half of that," Stanley said.

Police say "Tiana" was actually a woman named Saundra Morris. They say Morris would give MLGW bogus information to "pay" victims' bills. That bought Morris two weeks of extra time.

"Ms. Campbell called MLG&W and got a conformation number that her bill had been paid," the report says.

That's exactly what happened to Smith, and why Smith ended up spreading the word about "Tiana".

"When the bank runs it through it becomes a bad payment because it's a bad account number."

MIFA's Spokesperson says to get help with your MLGW bill you must come in person to their headquarters in Midtown.

"Have a face to face meeting with a social worker, who through a series of questions determines if that person is eligible," James Seacat said.

MIFA says it does not have social workers out in the community approaching people.

Bartlett Police have a warrant out for the arrest of Saundra Morris. A spokesperson says as many as 20 people may have been ripped off in the scam. If you think you're a victim, call MLGW during normal business hours at 901-321-6969.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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