TCSO Warns of Widespread Impersonation Phone Scam and Announces Arrest in Separate Impersonation Case

A phone scam involving the impersonation of a TCSO officer has been victimizing residents throughout Travis County. During the month of October, TCSO received approximately three reports a day from people who had either been victimized by the scam or who were reporting the scammer’s attempt to victimize them. On the low end, victims have been swindled out of $1000 - $1500. On the high end, some victims have lost as much as $8000. Scammers have targeted college students, the elderly, small business owners and most recently, physicians.

The caller claims to be an officer with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office or another local, state or federal agency. He aggressively claims the resident has failed to do any number of things, ranging from jury duty to paying taxes and tells the resident he/she owes a fine that must be paid immediately in order to avoid being arrested.

There is a common element in all of the phone scams. The caller seeks immediate payment via gift card or money pack. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office will never seek payment for anything via wire transfer, gift cards or money packs. Persons who receive a suspicious phone call from someone demanding payment are welcome to contact TCSO to verify the validity of that call before giving anyone money. 512-854-9770

Several weeks ago, TCSO Detectives received a report from a victim who had been scammed out of money by a man who wore a badge and handcuffs, and claimed to be Robert Rodriguez, a "Detective with the Travis County Hot Checks Division". As detectives investigated, it was determined that the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Leander Police Department (LPD) and Austin Police Department had also received similar reports. One report described the scammer wearing a holstered hand gun.

Working with the above mentioned agencies to find common case elements, TCSO Detectives have determined the suspect’s actual identity to be RICKY CORTEZ of Houston, TX. TCSO Detectives traveled to Houston to execute a search warrant of the suspect’s home and vehicle. The search produced evidence confirming the false identity and the crimes committed.

Warrants for the arrest of Ricky Cortez on the charge of Impersonating a Public Servant (3

rd Degree Felony) were issued by TCSO and LPD. On November 2, 2017, Cortez turned himself in and posted bond on both. TCSO believes there could be more unreported cases in which Cortez scammed people for money in the Central Texas area. TCSO is asking victims of this scam to please report the crime to their local law enforcement agency.


Submitted By: Kristen Dark, Sr. Public Information Officer (512) 854-4986

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