Lady Lake detective leads effort to recover $280,232 for Villager

Detective Matthew Duryea

A Lady Lake police detective led an effort to recover $280,232 for a Villager who was the victim of an internet scam.

A woman in her sixties contacted the Lady Lake Police Department to report the theft. She had contacted a number of other agencies and was directed by the Florida Attorney General’s Office to make a report to her local law enforcement agency. Detective Matthew Duryea was assigned the case.

The woman told Duryea that she had purchased crypto currency with a value of $427,702 which was held in her Coinbase account. When she checked her account she was shocked to find the money was gone. She had apparently been scammed when she was contacted on the internet from someone claiming to be from customer service for her phone and internet service provider. The scammers were able to access her Coinbase account.

Duryea contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Secret Service  and enlisted their assistance. He also worked with Firebird Analytical Solutions and Technologies Company, which aids law enforcement and the military with technical support. The search for the stolen crypto currency led to an account held by an Indian national in New Delhi, India. Duryea then took the steps necessary to get a warrant to seize the crypto account. He also ascertained how the Town of Lady Lake could set up a cryptocurrency bank account through Coinbase. Lady Lake Finance Director Pam Winegardner aided in setting up the account. While the account was being set up the scammer’s account was frozen. Once the account was in place, Coinbase transferred the cryptocurrency into the Town’s account which was then liquidated. The market value of the currency totaled $280,232. When the woman came to the police department she was very grateful.

“Detective Duryea was recognized by the United States Secret Service for his hard work and diligence on this case. He was able to accomplish this seizure and retrieve the stolen cryptocurrency funds for the victim, who was overwhelmed with emotion when presented with her check,” said Lady Lake Police Chief Robert Tempesta.

He said Duryea’s hard work on this case will assist other agencies in their endeavors on cryptocurrency cases.

“He never wanted to give up once he obtained lead after lead. He represents the police department at the highest level,” the chief added.

Duryea, a former chef, was named Lady Lake’s officer of the year in 2021.