WATERVLIET, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Saturday, October 15, the Watervliet Police Department investigated a complaint from an 89-year-old father who was called by someone who falsely stated he represented the Public Defender’s Office. The impersonator asked for $6,500 to help the man’s daughter, who was said to be arrested after a car crash that injured a pregnant woman. In response, the father immediately provided money to the caller.

A second attempt for money was made on October 17. As a result, the Watervliet Police Department, with help from the New York State Police Community Stabilization Unit and the Green Island Police Department, intercepted a cash package that was scheduled for delivery to the suspect.

Watervliet Police charged Christian DeJesus Taveras Rodriguez, 23, of Connecticut, with two counts of scheme to defraud in the first degree, criminal impersonation in the first degree, and grand larceny in the fourth degree. All four are felonies. Rodriguez was arraigned in Watervliet City Court and released on an appearance ticket.

“Most of us have been solicited by these types of loathsome and treacherous criminals,” said Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni. “Due to the spineless distance, they intentionally place between themselves and their victims, they are rarely brought to justice.”

Based on information developed during the investigation, detectives are trying to determine if Rodriguez has victimized, or tried to victimize, other people under similar circumstances. Anyone with information is urged to call Watervliet Police Detectives at (518) 270-3892.

“These crimes are designed to manipulate vulnerable people in our communities. The Watervliet Police Department, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to relentlessly pursue the offenders responsible for these morally poisonous acts and bring them to justice,” concluded Centanni.

The department encourages people to inform their family and friends that legitimate government entities do not solicit personal information or ask for payment over the phone. In these cases, criminals pose as government officials who scare and intimidate victims, often with time-sensitive demands that are professionally executed.

Many times, victims of these crimes are reluctant to notify law enforcement due to embarrassment and shame. It is important for victims to realize they are not alone. Local law enforcement agencies strongly encourage anyone who has sent money—or other items—under similar circumstances to contact their local police department.