Officials of the City of Lawton are warning residents that reports have come in that a con artist is on the prowl, dressed as a city employee. Assistant City Manager Jim Russell says the city has received reports by residents stating they were approached by a man, dressed in a jacket with the City of Lawton emblem telling them that their tall grass was in violation of city codes and would result in fines unless they paid him $200 to mow the lawns.

All three of the residents who filed the reports were elderly and were taken by the con man; the reported incidents have all occurred in the past two weeks. Russell detailed the similarities in the incidents: the residents were elderly, the description of the man, including his jacket with a city emblem, all three residents were contacted during normal City Hall business hours. Russell also says the perpetrator is not following standard protocol required of city workers including wearing a city badge with badge number, which is required of city employees. If a resident has any questions about anyone identifying themselves as a city employee, they should always ask to see the persons badge. Russell says the city is preparing to issue all employees a photo I.D. to further aid residents.

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In addition to city identification, the fake employee is circumventing other city process in regards to the supposed "offense" of the residents. The city's standard procedure includes a written warning, and that additional contacts will also be in writing. Finally, if does come to fining a resident over tall grass, the resident will always be notified in writing by the city.

The city is asking that any residents that may have had contact with the the imposter employee, or that might have questions regarding the process can contact the city manager's office at 581-3301 or the neighborhood services division at 581-3467. Residents should also be advised that the city will not mow the property, unless all processes have been exhausted, and in that case the city's cost will be attached to the property via lien.

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source: The Lawton Constitution, KSWO News