CHICOPEE — Mayor John Vieau presented Chicopee Police Sgts. Matthew Costa and Matthew Muldoon, and Officer Elli Rodriguez with certificates of appreciation for the work they did on two separate scam cases.

Police Chief Patrick Major described the first event where a Chicopee resident was catfished and scammed of $60,000.

In January 2021, Costa was investigating a case where Chicopee resident Linda Bemis said she met someone on Facebook who portrayed themselves as Mr. Bravo.

Bravo claimed to be in the U.S. military and was stationed in Afghanistan.

After an online relationship quickly formed and months of talking, Bravo explained that he was trying to get back home to Texas, but his belongings and luggage were stuck at an airport in England and needed $10,000 to get them removed.

The Chicopee resident sold their vehicle and wired $10,000 to Bravo.

Months later, Bravo further explained that his general would not let him go home due to having to pay penalties in customs for his belongings in the sum of $50,000.

Bemis sold a share in her home to raise the $50,000 and wired the money.

A month later, Bravo asked for another $20,000 which caused Bemis to finally realize something was off and contact the police.

Costa, along with Muldoon, were able to identify the bank account and email associated as 62-year-old Lisa Miller who lived in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

Costa called the Sunny Isles Beach local police department who were able to help investigate the situation and eventually arrested Miller on charges of organized fraud and theft from the elderly.
In December 2023, Miller was sentenced to five years in state prison.

“That is going above and beyond. I don’t think anything more than these examples today can exemplify the core values that we have in this department,” Major said.

Vieau also recognized Rodriguez who was able to assist another resident who was scammed out of $21,000.

The Chicopee Police Department was contacted by the mayor’s office to assist a resident who believed they had fallen for a pyramid scheme. The resident was involved in a multi-level management pyramid scam where the company requested $21,000. The victim believed they were going into business together, however, this turned out to be a lie. He took out a loan and didn’t have a way to pay it back after he was guaranteed he would be making a lot of money but ended up making zero dollars.

After reaching out to the Police Department, Rodriguez helped the resident receive a full refund.

Major said, “It’s the officers working within the community to assist our community members. We know scams these days are very prevalent and we’ve got a lot of residents who have lost tremendous sums of money to these scams. The officers’ diligence and taking the extra time to go forth and assist our citizens in getting their money returned to them, definitely shows the core values we have.”

Vieau added, “These scammers are constantly attacking people on social media, trying to find creative ways to get into your bank account. It’s scary and I commend the Chicopee [Police Department]. I know that Polish National Credit Union is working to make a scam awareness program. There are a lot of scams out there and usually, to my understanding, that money doesn’t get recouped so two success stories and I want to say thank you.”