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Police accuse man of jobs scam

The job prospect sounded legitimate. Local ads offered $18 to $25 per hour for drivers, who had to pay an application fee for the promise of employment at Destiny Escorts.

Only one problem.

"There was no company known as Destiny Escorts, and no jobs for drivers, as offered," Buffalo Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards stated.

Buffalo police say a Maryland man used that scam to defraud local residents out of a total believed to be a few thousand dollars.

Detectives arrested Neeraj Sharma, 31, of Laurel, Md., Thursday night, after seeing a commotion near the Hyatt Hotel.

Sex Offense Squad Detectives Jeffrey Rinaldo and David Kobler stopped Sharma, as he ran from a person who accused him of bilking him out of his money.

Further investigation led detectives to uncover what they called a scheme to defraud more than a dozen local residents.

Police accused Sharma of placing the local ads seeking drivers and offering the $18 to $25 per hour. Prospective drivers were told to call "Rick" to make arrangements. But before getting the job, they had to pay an application fee, believed to be more than $100. Sharma has been charged with scheme to defraud, criminal impersonation and grand larceny, according to police reports.

Buffalo detectives also have conferred with Amherst police, to see whether the same scam was being used in Amherst. Police also believe Sharma may have used a similar pitch in Ohio. Detectives Rinaldo and Kobler were assisted by General Investigation Unit Sgt. Sherry Kiszewski and Northwest District Officer Robert W. Yeates in the investigation and arrest.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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