Elderly woman loses $16k to scammers

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scammers stole $16,000 from an elderly Clanton woman Tuesday afternoon, according to Police Chief Brian Stilwell.

The victim’s name wasn’t released, but the woman is in her mid-70s. Stilwell said she is “upset and, naturally, embarrassed.”

Here’s what the woman told police happened:

A black woman in her late 50s or early 60s approached the victim in the Winn-Dixie parking lot around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The scammer showed her a bag of money she said had fallen off a truck.

The woman told the victim that the bag contained $120,000.

The victim said she told the woman that they should call the police, but the scammer told her they didn’t need to do that.

Another black woman then joined the two women. One of the scammers pretended to call an attorney and told the victim that they could take him the money and each collect about $30,000 after lawyer fees.

But before they could do that, the first woman told the victim she would have to bring some of her own money so the attorney could record serial numbers on the bills.

The second black woman then left, while the victim drove the first woman to her house to collect the money.

She ended up giving the scammer $16,000, police believe.

The victim and the woman exited the house, supposedly heading to the attorney’s office. They stopped at the Shell Station on Exit 205 to get a bottle of water for the victim.

The scammer entered the store and bought a bottle of water, and then disappered with the money, presumably in a nearby getaway car. Security cameras inside the store caught her, but there is no video of her leaving the station.

Stilwell doesn’t think the scammers are from Chilton County.

“We have a feeling that they are not local … that they were just passing through,” Stilwell said.

The police chief said he hopes Tuesday’s incident serves as a warning for everyone.

“Nothing is free. If it’s too good to be true, it normally is,” he said.

Stilwell said scammers often target senior citizens because of their tendencies to have cash and their trustworthy nature.

“These people are preying on the elderly — they keep money in the house and some don’t trust banks. They tend to be more trusting too,” Stilwell said. “These scammers are professionals, and they are good.”

The department’s main priority in this case is to recover the victim’s money, Stilwell said.

Anyone with information about the case should call Investigator Keith Maddox at 755-1194.