Couple charged in scheme aimed at elderly women

March 19, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A Georgia couple accused by police of tricking elderly black women into relinquishing thousands of dollars and jewelry have been arrested, authorities said yesterday.

Thomas Richardson, 45, and Angela S. Richardson, 27, who gave an address of 721 Belgian Ave., Baltimore, were charged with grand theft in two cases and attempted theft in a third after they were arrested March 10.

In the most recent cases, two elderly women lost nearly $4,000 in savings, said Bill White, a detective with the Baltimore County Police Department, as well as wedding rings and other jewelry.

The scheme used on the two elderly women worked this way, White said: A man or a woman approached an elderly woman as she shopped and told her that he or she was an emissary visiting from Africa with a large sum of money.

The women were told that the emissary was supposed to give the money to someone who had money, so that person could give it to a local African-American church.

The victim then was asked to take a wrapped bundle of "money" -- and give the emissary a "good-faith" amount in return. Both victims discovered, once the emissary had disappeared, that the bundle contained shredded newspaper.

"The victims that they preyed on were older, black females," White said. "They preyed on these people's good will and religious beliefs."

One woman gave away her wedding ring after she was told the $700 she offered was not enough, White said.

When the Richardsons were arrested, very little of the missing money was found but Angela Richardson was wearing the woman's ring, White said.

The Richardsons gave police a Baltimore address, but they also live in Atlanta, White said, where they own a fast-food outlet.

Police have had complaints about an "African church" scheme since August 1996, he said.

The Richardsons were held at the Baltimore County Detention Center last night. His bail was set at $100,000, White said, and hers at $300,000.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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