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Inmate among 3 charged in scam that cost local woman thousands | News

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Inmate among 3 charged in scam that cost local woman thousands

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- A Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office investigation has tied another Georgia inmate – and prison – to a phone scam.  And this one cost a local woman thousands.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office arrested 22-year-old Marissa Eastwood of Lilburn with theft by deception and 24-year-old Chelsea Allyse Guevara for conspiracy to commit theft by deception in connection with a phone scam that costs a Gwinnett County woman $3,800.

But they weren’t the only suspects connected to the incident. Another one, 26-year-old Autry State Prison inmate Nicolas Brady Kennedy, is also named in a warrant for conspiracy to commit theft.

“I don’t like seeing innocent people being victimized by anyone, but even less-so by state inmates,” Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway said. “They rob their victims of much more than money, they rob them of their sense of well-being. I am committed to doing everything within my power to stop them.”

This scam they were allegedly part of involved a caller identifying himself as “Deputy Schaffer” and informing the victim that there was a warrant out for her arrest for failing to appear for a grand jury summons. 

To get rid of the warrant, the victim was asked to pay a fine in the form of rechargeable money cards, Western Union and MoneyGram transfers.

In these scenarios, the money finds its way to the scammer with little recourse for the victim.

Sheriff’s office officials said that these crimes have been going on for years – their own investigation going back to 2014. And it’s not the first time Autry State Prison has been named.

In fact, 11Alive first reported on a major bust in these types of scams at the same prison in January that involved inmates, corrections officers, outside parties and counterfeit phones.

In these, corrections officers helped outside parties pass phones to inmates in Autry State who used them to make scam calls impersonating officers. Outside parties would then collect forms of payment and pass some or all of the money back into the prison to the inmate.

At the time, 51 people – including 15 current or former corrections officers – were arrested in connection to the crimes.

PHOTOS | 15 corrections officers among 51 charged in Ga. prison bust


“We appreciate the timely assistance of the Department of Corrections Criminal Investigation Unit,” Investigative Services Division Commander Lt. Colonel Sims said. “They acted immediately upon our request locating dozens of contraband cell phones in the facility. Their actions resulted in the immediate apprehension and transfer of Nicolas Kennedy to a maximum security facility and the recovery of evidence which will assist us in the prosecution of the case.”

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