A Paducah man faces charges after officials said he impersonated a federal officer and made demands regarding child custody, threatening arrest if the demands weren’t met.
McCracken deputies said the investigation began in late June, when detectives were notified that Corey Thorson, 45, contacted them by phone and text message, claiming to be an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
Detectives contacted the ATF and confirmed Thorson was not an agent, according to the sheriff’s office.
This week, detectives were notified twice more that Thorson made contact with parties and presented himself as an ATF agent, threatening arrest if his demands weren’t met.
He was arrested Wednesday, and charged with three counts each of impersonating a peace officer and harassing communications.
McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter said that, while it appeared this case was targeted toward acquaintances of the alleged perpetrator, residents should always exercise caution when dealing with people claiming to be law enforcement, especially in phone communications.
He said he can’t remember recent cases of scammers posing as federal law enforcement, as it’s more common for tricksters to use local officers with identifiable names as a cover.
“I’ve had people call me and say that I called them, when I hadn’t,” Carter said.
He noted that law enforcement will not ask for money over the phone — payments in legal cases are made at official locations — nor will officers ask for information like social security numbers.
“Getting that personal information or anything involving money … should be an automatic red flag that it’s a scam,” Carter said.
Regarding allegations like those in Thorson’s cases, Carter said legal matters like visitation rights, protective orders or arrest warrants, will be accompanied by official paperwork.
It’s not unusual for law enforcement to reach out to parties associated with criminal or civil matters by phone, but Carter said anyone wishing to confirm the identity of someone presenting as an officer can call the agency and confirm whether an agent has been attempting to reach them.
Carter said anyone suspicious of a purported law enforcement call should look up the official number for the agency in question, and not necessarily trust that a number given by the agent will necessarily get to the agency.
And he said if the situation sounds too suspicious to trust phone communication, “physically come to the sheriff’s office or the police department and speak with us in person.”
The McCracken County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at (270) 444-4719 and the Paducah Police Department can be reached at (270) 444-8550.
Detectives believe there could be more victims in the case against Thorson, and urged anyone who may have been contacted to call the sheriff’s office.