VERONA (WKOW) -- Sixteen-year old Verona Area High School varsity golfer Rachel Hernandez went from being excited about her prep team getting deserved exposure, to feeling creepy, after a man police say is a fake reporter tried to convince Hernandez and a host of southern Wisconsin female high school athletes to pose for photo shoots.
"He started asking...if I'd be able to have somebody on my shoulders, and I was kind of like, I don't think so," Hernandez said.
Hernandez's father, Wisconsin State Journal reporter Rob Hernandez, is a credentialed reporter, and intercepted the call around the time the man proposed unusual photo angles and asked personal questions.
Hernandez says the man claimed to be from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But Hernandez says he did not recognize the name from the people he knows in Wisconsin's sports media circles. Hernandez says when he demanded more of an explanation, the caller hung up. But Rachel Hernandez says she knows from text messages, the man almost immediately starting calling her varsity golf teammates.
After Hernandez and other concerned parents in several counties in southern Wisconsin whose children had also received calls notified schools and law enforcement, Cedarburg police officer Joseph Biliskov says investigators quickly focused on who they believed was the imposter.
Biliskov says the man in his sixties has impersonated police officers and even state officials before, and has faced misdemeanor criminal charges in the past. But Biliskov declined to identify the man or his hometown, citing the continuing investigation.
Biliskov and Verona police officials say the man may not have broken any laws with the strange phone calls, but they say they want to talk to him. Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol has yet to return a call from 27 News, on his view of contacts between the man and female, teen athletes at schools in his county.
Rob Hernandez says reporters at the State Journal, Journal Sentinel and other reputable news gathering organizations work through high school athletic directors and coaches to arrange interviews with prep players.
Authorities say no photo shoot meet-ups took place. Rachel Hernandez says the man's approach convinced her, that never would have happened.
"My mom has been strict on me, if anyone sounds creepy on the phone, you don't know all the way, it's 'Sorry, I can't talk to you right now, you'll have to call back when I'm more comfortable.' "
VERONA (WKOW) -- A Cedarburg police official tells 27 News a man in his sixties has been posing as a newspaper reporter and calling female high school athletes, trying to arrange photo shoots with them.
Cedarburg police officer Joseph Biliskov tells 27 News the suspect has posed as a police officer and a state official in the past, but appears to have ramped up his efforts as an imposter. Biliskov says the man has faced misdemeanor criminal charges in the past.
Biliskov says the investigation may lead to an arrest. He declines to identify the man.
Authorities say phone calls have involved female high school athletes in Verona and at as many as a half dozen schools in southern Wisconsin.
Tony Galli will have more on this developing story on 27 News at 5 and 6.