Local Scam Has National Ties

12-10-04 - The same day a Madill couple fell victim to a scam and robbery inside their own home, local police may have caught the bandits. First News has learned the prime suspect is connected to a band of gypsy-like travelers who make their business ripping people off.

Jake and Lizzy Higgins lost nearly $3,000 to two men in less than five minutes on Tuesday. The con men posed as utility workers who offered to lower their electric bill. But once inside their home, the men helped themselves to Jake’s wallet.

But later that night, Wapanucka Police Chief John Bynum pulled a car over on highway 48. Inside the car was more than $5,000 in cash and several wallets. Police arrested a man named Tommy Sherlock, but later learned that he is part of a group known as the Irish Travelers. The ethnic group lives in a community near Augusta, Georgia, and keeps primarily to themselves. But authorities in that region have dealt with them often, usually as part of a crime ring that targets people in numerous scams.

Authorities have tied the group of 15 to 18 travelers believed to be in the Texoma area to the same settlement near Augusta.

Sherlock is being held indefinitely in the Johnston County jail on charges of child endangerment, DUI, and using police scanners in the commission of a crime. Police are working with a bank in Madill to try and trace the bills stolen from Higgins wallet to those found in Sherlock's car.