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Citizens and business owners take a stand

July 19, 2012

This sign can be seen at the Tote-A-Poke store in Heavener regarding a local family that citizens claim to have been swindled by.

Recently the Poteau
Daily News ran a letter to
the editor written by a
local business owner
accusing a Monroe woman
of scamming him out of
money. It now seems as
though another business
owner has attempted to
warn the public about this
woman and her family.
A sign posted on the
doors of the Heavener and
Hodgen Tote-A-Poke
states, “Attention: Scam.
Do not give money to Kyle
- Steve- or Teri Tiffee.
They are out pandering
money.”
The notice is signed by
Mick LaFevers who owns
the Tote-A-Poke stores.
Attempts to reach LaFevers
to ask what prompted the
signs were unsuccessful.
Since the sign was
placed at the stores the
PDN has been bombarded
with calls from people
claiming that they have
fallen victim to the three
people named on the sign.
The Poteau Daily News
ran a story in February
2010 regarding former
Poteau Police Detective
Steve Tiffee who had been
arrested on a felony charge
of uttering bogus checks.
According to the information
given to PDN at that
time by LeFlore County
Sheriff Bruce Currnutt,
there had been reports that
Tiffee had been soliciting
people around the area to
give him money to assist
him.
“Tiffee has allegedly
been going to businesses
and homes introducing
himself as a retired police
officer and has asked for
money to help him during
separate emergency situations,”
Curnutt told PDN
in 2010. He went on to say
that people had stepped
forward, contacting the
Sheriff’s Department after
they reportedly gave Tiffee
money then attempted to
stop payment only to find
he had allegedly already
cashed the checks they
had written to him.
Tiffee is on probation
for that charge.
Terri Tiffee and her son
Tyler are also on probation
stemming from a
charge of being in possession
of drugs.
PDN has received
numerous calls from citizens
with stories of those
similar to what Curnutt
spoke about in 2010
regarding all three of the
Tiffee’s. The newspaper
has learned that several
law enforcement agencies
around the county have
received complaints as
well.
The question that most
people ask is why haven’t
charges been filed.
PDN spoke with LeFlore
County District Attorney
Jeff Smith on Wednesday
about the matter. He stated
that he too has been told
stories regarding scams by
the Tiffees over the last
two years. He said that his
office had contacted an
outside agency about
investigating the matter
more than 18 months ago
but that request was
declined.
“We are not an investigating
body,” Smith said.
According to the DA’s
office there are two types
of charges that many
scammers fall under
according to the law. They
are operating a con game,
and obtaining money by
false pretenses. The problem
with proving either
charge is that you have to
overcome the fact that in
many cases the money that
is transferred is a gift.
There are no legal or binding
contracts. Legally the
DA would also have to
prove that the reason a
person obtained the money
was false.
In order for the office to
prove a case of false pretenses
they must first
know what pretense was
used. Which means that
citizens are going to have
to come forward to their
local law enforcement
agencies and make an official
report. Smith said if
local and county law
enforcement will submit
those reports to his office
it would help establish a
pattern of behavior and his
office would then be able
to attempt to make a case.
“We have done at this
point all that we know to
do,” he said. “We cannot
prosecute anyone for any
alleged crime if we don’t
have information that will
allow us to prove without a reasonable doubt that they
committed a crime.”
Smith said the only way his office can obtain that
information is for victims to come forward with their
statements and for law enforcement to turn those reports
over to his office. He said his office has heard stories
for the last two years regarding scams of this nature but
they have to be able to prove the accusations before
charges can be filed.
“We want justice for these people,” Smith said. “And
we have all heard the stories but we have to have official
information in order to do our job.”
PDN contacted the LeFlore County Sheriff’s
Department and the Poteau Police Department regarding
the accusations being made and were assured that
any reports made would be given to the DA’s office for
prosecution. Attempts to contact the Tiffees were unsuccessful.

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