The Business of Scamming

Scam artists continue to come up with new ways to scam honest people and businesses, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies and consumers to stay on top of all the ways to prevent becoming a victim.

Last week an Eden Prairie business learned that somebody had used their company name to create a domain similar to theirs, and then attempted to scam another business out of thousands of dollars in product by creating a fake account. The product ordered was to be shipped to an address in Oklahoma. Luckily the vendor suspected it was fraud and did not bill the Eden Prairie company. Instead they alerted them to the fraud attempt.

This is the third time this particular Eden Prairie business has been targeted. The first time occurred last fall when scammers attempted to purchase goods using the company’s account 13 times. Because the vendor thought the orders looked suspicious, none of them went through.

The second time the company was targeted occurred in early January 2017 and investigators do not believe it is related to the first case. This time the company electronically paid a bill for more than $13,000 to a legitimate vendor in Illinois for products they had ordered and received. The vendor continually stated they had not received the payment. Further investigation revealed that the scammers had directed the Eden Prairie company to send the payment to an account based in Nigeria using sophisticated technology.

All of these cases are difficult to pursue since they appear to originate outside of the United States. The EPPD strongly encourages all businesses to thoroughly vet the vendors they work with. Businesses should pay careful attention if a vendor’s email or payment information changes. This is most likely the work of a sophisticated crime ring that uses false emails, IP addresses, domains, telephone numbers, pre-paid debit cards and addresses to swindle businesses out of products and money.

Reserve Officers, Girl Scouts and Veterans

Last Thursday the Eden Prairie Senior Center hosted a Presidents Day event in conjunction with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a non-profit organization that creates awareness for the purpose of connecting service members and their families with community support, training, services and resources.

Eden Prairie Police Department Reserve Officers attended the event and conducted a U.S. flag lowering and raising, and demonstrated the 13 folds of the flag. As Reserve Officers demonstrated the folds, Girl Scouts from Troops 17155, 14271, 12841 and 14286 read descriptions of the folds and their history.

We’d like to thank the Girl Scouts, the Senior Center and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon for inviting us!

Another Naloxone Save

On the same day we posted a blog on the new #NOverdose campaign, EPPD officers administered naloxone to a man experiencing a heroin overdose and saved his life.

Around 9:30 p.m. Feb. 8, an EPPD officer noticed suspicious behavior in the parking lot of a car wash. Upon investigating, the officer found two men outside of a car. One of the men was lying on the ground unconscious and the other man was standing over him. The man on the ground had labored breathing and was sweating profusely. Although his companion said the man on the ground had not taken any drugs, the officer noticed several physical signs of an opioid overdose and a needle lying on the ground next to the man.

Additional officers arrived on the scene and administered naloxone, a medication given through the nose that reverses the effects of a heroin overdose. Officers were assisted by Eden Prairie firefighters and Edina paramedics. Within 3-4 minutes the man regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital.

Since 2011 Eden Prairie has experienced eight overdose deaths and seven overdoses where the person survived. In three of those seven cases naloxone was administered.

If you or someone you know needs help for an opioid addiction contact the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration hotline at 1-800-662-4357. The hotline is toll-free, confidential and open 24/7/365.

Chaplains & Chili

Chaplains Jim McCracken, Jac Perrin, John Brecount, Paul Nelson, Sharon Predovich, Peter Johnson, Dale DeMell. Not pictured: Jim Erickson, Nolana Holloway

Yesterday our volunteer Police and Fire Chaplains hosted chili meals for our staff throughout the day. It’s an opportunity for the Chaplains to spend time with EPPD employees in an informal setting, which they don’t often get a chance to do.

Each Chaplain is affiliated with a church in Eden Prairie. The nine pastors take turns serving on-call and are dispatched to scenes where first responders think the spiritual presence of a Chaplain would bring some comfort to those involved. The scenes range from missing person reports to death investigations to car crashes. In 2016 Chaplains were dispatched to incident scenes 22 times.

We appreciate our Chaplains for so many reasons. In addition to making delicious chili, they also selflessly give of their time to provide emotional and spiritual care to both community members and public safety responders. We are fortunate to have them as our partners in public service.

#NOverdose

Last week, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office announced a yearlong, countywide drug prevention campaign called “#NOverdose.” The campaign is a response to the high number of opioid-related deaths in Hennepin County in 2016.

Preliminary statistics show there were 144 opioid-related deaths in Hennepin County during 2016, a 31-percent increase from the year before. In Eden Prairie there have been eight overdose deaths since 2011. An additional six people overdosed but survived.

In a high-profile case in Eden Prairie in April 2016, a man was found slumped over in his car in the Costco parking lot. Investigators determined he had used heroin laced with fentanyl which caused his death. Four other people in Minnesota died after taking heroin from the same dealer as the man who died in Eden Prairie. The heroin dealer in all of those cases, Beverly Burrell, is now facing five murder charges.

As part of the campaign, the Sheriff’s Office is building a coalition of school districts, law enforcement agencies, elected officials, community members and community organizations that can assist with educating parents and youth about current drug dangers and trends.

In Eden Prairie we are attacking the opioid problem in several ways. First, we are educating kids about the dangers of opioids through the CounterAct program, where our school liaison officers teach 700 elementary school students each year, and through high school health classes where students are visited by an officer and HCMC paramedic.

Second, we started a program in 2014 to give away home medication disposal bags to residents so they can remove and safely discard unused medications from their homes. We also encourage residents to secure their current medications, in particular from curious teenagers.

Third, all of our officers began carrying naloxone in 2015. Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of a heroin overdose and has the ability to save lives. In addition, the EPPD has an officer who serves full-time on the Southwest Hennepin Drug Task Force which works to combat drug crimes in Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka, Hopkins and St. Louis Park.

We are looking forward to working with the Sheriff’s Office and our Eden Prairie community partners to continue our fight against this deadly epidemic.