LANCASTER, PA — Two men from New York have been charged with posing as law enforcement officers and scamming an elderly resident of Strasburg, Lancaster County out of $115,000. The suspects, identified as Vikram Singh, 22, of South Ozone Park, N.Y., and Devraj Devraj, who initially refused to reveal his identity to investigators, are facing multiple charges including theft by deception, criminal use of a communication facility, and two counts of theft by extortion.
The criminal complaint alleges that on September 15, the Strasburg Borough Police Department received a call from concerned citizens regarding a potential scam targeting their neighbor. According to the victim, she had received a call from someone claiming to be from the DEA’s Office, informing her that her social security number had been used in drug dealing and money laundering activities, and that she could face charges. The call was then transferred to another perpetrator posing as a sergeant, who presented her with two options: hire an attorney and face a public trial lasting 2-7 years, or keep the matter private and have her assets picked up and secured by the government.
Following the instructions of the perpetrators, the victim withdrew money from her bank accounts on multiple occasions. The defendants would then drive to the victim’s house to collect the money, directing her to place it in the back of their car before returning inside her home.
Upon being notified of the situation, Strasburg Borough Police Department Chief Nick Ferretti involved Lancaster County Detectives in the investigation. On September 21, they intercepted a phone call from the defendants arranging another meeting with the victim. An operation was conducted on September 22 involving Strasburg Police, East Lampeter Township Police, Lancaster County Detectives, Lancaster County SERT, and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department. The defendants were arrested in a vehicle matching the description they had given the victim.
Further investigation revealed that the defendants were not legally in the United States and were currently undergoing removal proceedings and on immigration bonds. Information obtained suggests that the scam operation was overseen by a contact in New York City, who would text the defendants details of pick-up points for money and direct them to various drop-off points throughout NYC and other states.
The defendants were arraigned last Saturday and have a tentative preliminary hearing date of October 6. Lancaster County Detective Stanley Roache filed the charges, which were approved by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Collo. The investigation into this matter is ongoing, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.