Newport police warn of calls from impostor cop

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) – Police are looking into a series of phone calls to Newport residents from a man pretending to be a member of the county sheriff’s office.

According to a post Wednesday on the department’s official Facebook page, two women in their 70’s received phone calls within hours of one another on Tuesday from a man identifying himself as “Sgt. David Chapman of the Newport County Sheriff’s Office.”

The first woman was called at 4:30 p.m. and was told by the suspect that he has a warrant for her arrest and he needed to confirm her identity. After she hung up the phone, the suspect called back and left a message, stating he had deputies en route to her house to arrest her.

When the number was called back, it went to an automated answering service stating it’s the “Newport County Sheriff’s Office” with prompts to connect to multiple deputies, including “Sgt. David Chapman.”

About three hours later, another woman  received a call from a man who also identified himself as “David Chapman.” Police say he told her one of her relatives missed a court date in New York and owed the court money. She was told if she couldn’t pay, her relative would be arrested.

Police say the number is not associated with the Newport County Sheriff’s Office and neither the Newport County Sheriff’s Office nor the Rhode Island Sheriff’s Office have an officer named “David Chapman.”

Both women reported the incident to the Newport Police Department. Newport police are warning the public to not give out any personal information to a police officer who uses this name.

“At no time would a Newport Police Officer or other law enforcement officer call on the phone and attempt to retrieve any type of payment for court fines or other violations,” the department’s post said. “If you do receive a call, do not provide any credit card or personal information to the caller.”

If you receive a phone call or have any information on the suspect, call the Newport Police Department immediately at (401) 847-1302.