Manchester woman loses $8,400 in bail scam, Florida man charged

*NOTE: This is a stock photo.
*NOTE: This is a stock photo.(Pexels)
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 1:21 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) - A Manchester woman was recently scammed out of $8,400 cash in a scheme where a Florida man, who is now criminally charged, allegedly set up a bail bond hoax in order to defraud her.

St. Louis County prosecutors have charged 21-year-old Jovan I. Hoskins, of Lehigh Acres, Florida, with stealing $750 or more, a class D felony, in the July 7 incident investigated by Manchester Police. A warrant has been requested for his arrest, according to docket entries in the case.

According to charging documents, the victim received a phone call from a person claiming to be an attorney, who told her that her son and grandson were involved in an accident while occupying a stolen car. The caller told the victim her family members were in jail and needed $8,400 for bail.

The victim obtained the cash, and the “attorney” told her a bail bondsman would come to her house to collect the money. A man later identified as Hoskins arrived and gave her a “case number” to write on the envelope and allegedly took the cash.

The victim and a witness gave police a description of the vehicle Hoskins was allegedly driving, which was also spotted on a traffic camera. A license plate number was obtained, and the car was traced to a rental business in Oklahoma, where it was allegedly rented by Hoskins, according to charging documents.

The Manchester Police Department said these are ways to prevent being a victim of a bail scam:

  • Lawyers or police personnel typically won’t call you to request bond money. They’ll let your relative call you instead.
  • Always ask to speak directly with your relative. If they make excuses or refuse, it is likely a scam.
  • Do not automatically trust a caller who claims to be your relative. Scammers often use information from social media to impersonate loved ones, even faking emotions like crying.
  • Scammers use pressure tactics and threats to rush you. If they threaten to raise the bond amount when you ask questions, it’s likely a scam.
  • Legitimate agencies will NEVER ask for payment via gift cards, PayPal, Google Wallet, or similar methods over the phone.
  • Legitimate agencies will NEVER send someone to your home to collect money. Hang up and call 911 immediately if you hear this.

If you suspect a scam, here are some things you can do to verify the legitimacy of the person and the agency they claim to be from:

  • Tell the caller you’ll call them back. If they object or pressure you for immediate action, it’s likely a scam. Hang up and take these steps:
    • Take some time to try and contact your relative for verification. If they call back to rush you, it’s probably a scam.
    • Hang up and then look up the agency’s phone number they claim to represent. Call the legitimate number and verify the information.
    • If in doubt, contact your local police department for assistance.
  • If you suspect a scam attempt, hang up and call your local police department. Scammers often change their phone numbers, but blocking the caller’s number is a good idea as well.
  • If you think you are the victim of a scam, do not hesitate to report it to the police. Scammers are skilled at manipulation, and there’s no need to feel embarrassed.