A telephone call to an adult chat line ended up costing a local man hundreds of dollars and a lot of worry, according to Buffalo police.
The man, whose name was withheld by police, told authorities he called the chat line looking for companionship last Friday night and was surprised when a woman quickly responded to his message.
“She called his cellphone, and they started talking. She said she wanted to come over to his house, but he explained he was in a relationship, so they agreed to meet at a parking lot in South Buffalo where she immediately propositioned him for sex, saying she needed to be compensated for her time,” Police Officer Martin Forero said.
The man said he was surprised by the proposition but decided to pay her $75 for sex in his vehicle, after successfully negotiating a discount. She had wanted $120.
Afterward, he drove away and thought that was the end of it.
It was just starting.
Saturday afternoon, he received a call from a “Detective Cavanaugh” on the business phone at the auto repair garage where he works. The fake detective informed him that the woman he met with the night before was 16 years old and that he was going to be arrested for raping her.
But there was a way out of the mess, the fake detective explained, if the man was willing to pay for the girl’s medical expenses for the rape examination at a hospital.
Cavanaugh said the girl’s family was reluctant to move forward with criminal charges and that all the man had to do was drop off $600 in a mailbox at a West Side residence and all would be forgotten.
“It is either that or I am going to come to your work and arrest you right now,” the alleged detective said.
Seizing the chance to avoid serious felony charges of having sex with a minor, the man obtained the money from his bank account and did as he was instructed.
“You have to have it there by 5 p.m.,” the caller said. “There will be undercover police officers watching you put the money in the mailbox. You won’t see the police officers, but they will be watching you.”
After dropping off the cash, the man sensed something was not quite right and confided what had happened to his boss, who contacted Buffalo police.
How did the caller know where the man worked?
Police said the man had worn his repair-garage work clothes to the Friday night meeting. His name and place of employment were on the clothing. So it was easy to look up the phone number of the garage. The woman, who was actually 25 years old, already had the man’s cellphone number from the message he had left on the chat line.
Directed by Buffalo police to go to the Northwest District Station, because the money had been delivered to a Massachusetts Avenue address in the district, the man received another call, this time on his cellphone, while he was filing his complaint at the station.
The call came approximately one hour after he had dropped off the $600. The person calling blocked the incoming phone number.
Officer Forero answered and was informed by “Detective Cavanaugh” that more money was now required.
“The family is not entirely satisfied and needs another $500, and that will settle the matter,” the fake detective said, urging swift delivery of the additional cash.
Forero convinced the man he would need 30 minutes and then hung up. Five minutes later, the extortionist called, but Forero would not answer because the call’s number remained blocked. At that point, the alleged detective began calling repeatedly and in his haste forgot to block his phone number, police said.
Armed with the caller’s number and the address where the man had dropped off the money, 304 Massachusetts, Northwest District Police Officers Donald Genovese and Al Monteforte, with help from Lt. Mary Hanley, located the woman.
Amber L. Kwasniewski was charged with criminal impersonation of a police officer for her role in the extortion, in addition to grand larceny, criminal possession of a crack pipe and unlawful possession of marijuana.
She is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, pending further court proceedings.
Northwest District Detective Carl A. Lundin is searching for “Detective Cavanaugh” to arrest him for impersonating a police officer.
Police ask that anyone else who may have fallen victim to this type of extortion contact them at the Northwest District, 851-4413.