Crime

Warrant: Crimestoppers insider cashed in on ‘at least’ four phony tips

Another arrest is expected at some point in an alleged scam that authorities say involved a secretary at Macon Regional Crimestoppers stealing reward money.

On Friday, Bibb County sheriff’s investigators charged Helen Dart Jones, an executive assistant at the nonprofit crook-nabbing outfit, with theft in the case.

Officials have said Jones misappropriated almost $1,800 in reward money that a yet-to-be-named accomplice may have collected.

“Inconsistencies with invoices and paperwork” that Jones filed led to her arrest, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

An arrest warrant sworn out Friday said Jones allegedly used her position to create phony tips and “have rewards paid ... on at least four occasions since January.”

She faces four counts of fiduciary theft.

Jones, 40, lives in a mobile home off Ga. 247 next to Central Fellowship Christian Academy in southern Bibb County.

When she answered her front door Monday morning and a reporter asked if she had anything to say about the charges against her, Jones said, “No, not really.”

Jones’ email address was still listed Monday on the Crimestoppers website as the person to contact at the organization’s Macon office at 300 Mulberry St.

According to her Facebook page, Jones in the past worked for area day care companies Children’s Friend and Tender Years Learning Corp.

She was “newly hired” at Crimestoppers, according to a statement from Crimestoppers Chairman Warren Selby Jr. in the sheriff’s office’s Friday news release. Jones’ Facebook page says she began working there last August.

The Crimestoppers website says tipsters can earn up to $1,000 and sometimes more depending on the crimes they provide information on.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Jones’ alleged scam may have worked, but it could have involved someone on the inside faking tips and back-dating them after seeing that wanted people were caught and jailed.

She may have exploited a system that, for obvious reasons, keeps secret the tipsters’ identities.

Crimestoppers assigns its informants with what it calls a “tip number” to help ensure their anonymity when they claim their rewards at local banks.

“Because no information about the informant is kept in our records,” the organization’s website notes, “the tip number is the only way Crimestoppers can connect a caller with the original tip report.”

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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