August 28, 2009 / 3:59 PM / 10 years ago

Stimulus checks lure Floridians to their arrest

MIAMI (Reuters) - Police in a Florida city used the promise of economic stimulus checks to lure 76 people to their arrest on a variety of outstanding warrants.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department set up “Operation Show Me the Money” to round up people wanted on charges ranging from second-degree murder to guns and drug charges to failure to pay child support.

Using the name of the fictitious “South Florida Stimulus Coalition,” police mailed letters asking the suspects to call an undercover phone line and make appointments to claim their money. When they showed up at an auditorium and presented their identification, they were led to an area where uniformed police were waiting to arrest them.

Police said such roundups are safer and more efficient than serving warrants at people’s homes.

“You totally control the environment whereas when you’re walking up to someone’s home there’s an unknown factor there,” Police Sergeant Frank Sousa said on Friday.

The operation ended on Thursday night and Sousa declined to say how much money the suspects were offered.

“They were not large dollar amounts,” he said. “No one was promised thousands of dollars.”

Reporting by Jane Sutton, editing by Vicki Allen

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