Monday, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 30-year-old Natasha Lesha Stephens for fraudulently acting as a highway patrolman recruit to raise money online.
Stephens, of Tupelo, was arrested at her home Friday by Investigator Lee McDivitt with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from detectives with the Tupelo Police Department. Stephens set up a GoFundMe page online to raise $1,000 for what she listed as required items for Mississippi Highway Patrol Cadet Class 62, to which she claimed on the page that she had been accepted.
In describing the fake campaign, Stephens wrote: “I have been blessed with the opportunity to become a part of something much higher than myself. I have been accepted in the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol Cadet Class 62 that begins this October. A list of required items has been given. Unfortunately I am unable to financially obtain those items. I am asking for help in order to be able to be apart of this opportunity. The cost is $1000. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Help spread the word!”
Stephens is charged with one felony count of wire and mail fraud. She faces up to five years in prison. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
“Our office has gotten this fraudulent page shut down,” said General Hood. “Do not give money to this person, and if you already have, contact our office immediately.”
To contact the Consumer Protection Division, call (800) 281-4418 or visit agjimhood.com.
This case was investigated by McDivitt, with assistance from detectives in the Tupelo Police Department, and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley.