Oxford police officer's investigation leads to arrest of scam artist
By Steven Hoffman
After a lengthy investigation, Oxford Borough police officer Chris Coverly charged James Franklin Hill, 54, a resident of South Orange, New Jersey, with felony theft, theft by deception, and possessing instruments of a crime after the alleged scam artist sold a set of fake gold coins to a local resident for $19,000.
According to police, Hill met with the victim at approximately 2:10 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2016 at the Oxford Library. Hill was supposed to be selling a collection of Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins after answering an ad the victim placed on Craigslist. Prior to the meeting, Hill communicated with the victim and sent pictures of the coins. He used an untraceable cell phone to send the pictures. The victim agreed to purchase the coins once he verified the validity of the coins.
During the meeting at the library, Hill presented a set of 24 gold coins that were contained in a black, plastic wallet. The victim examined the coins and determined that they were legitimate, so the two discussed the terms of the transaction. Hill began to argue with the victim over the amount the victim was to pay to buy the coins. After a few minutes, Hill decided he would sell the coins and gave the victim what appeared to be the same black wallet in exchange for $19,000 in cash. After receiving the cash, Hill quickly left the library. It was then that the victim realized that Hill had switched wallets and the coins that had been purchased were a set of fake coins, not the ones that had first been presented.
The victim contacted the Oxford Police Department and, based on the information that was provided, officer Coverly was able to identify Hill as a resident of South Orange, New Jersey. As Coverly continued his investigation, he was able to link Hill to numerous other bait-and-switch scams in several states. A warrant for Hill's arrest was issued. On March 15, more than three months after the crime in Oxford, an off-duty South Orange, New Jersey police officer spotted Hill sitting in a parked vehicle. Hill was taken into custody in New Jersey and was subsequently extradited to Chester County.
On April 11, Hill was arraigned before District Judge Scott Massey at District Court 15-3-05, and remanded to the Chester County Prison after failing to post bail, which was set at $1,000,000.
Based on the investigation that included collaboration with law enforcement agencies in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, California, New York, and Delaware, police have been able to link Hill to a series of bait-and-switch scams in those jurisdictions as well.