Police warn of scheme that targets the elderly

Woman, 85, was tricked while at Mall in Columbia

October 30, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Howard County police warned yesterday of an elaborate scheme often carried out against elderly people after an 85-year-old woman was bilked out of $12,500.

Police said the woman was at The Mall in Columbia on Oct. 17 when she was approached by another woman who told her the first woman's car had been hit in the parking garage. The second woman offered to walk outside with her to see the damage, police said.

While in the garage, the first woman saw that her car was not damaged, but then the other woman claimed she had discovered a bag filled with money and offered to share the cash with her. They drove to a nearby office building, where the schemer claimed her "boss" would count the money and give them advice on what to do. The 85-year-old stayed in the car until the woman returned from the building and was told the bag she was carrying contained $75,000, police said.

The victim then spoke to the "boss" on the other woman's cell phone. The man told her that to share the money she had to put up $12,500 to cover taxes and other expenses. For "tax purposes," he also asked for personal information, such as her name, Social Security number, address, phone number, date of birth and bank account information, police said.

The victim agreed to withdraw the money from her bank and include an additional cash advance. She also gave the woman her jewelry to cover the "remaining expenses," police said. After the victim became suspicious and asked for her money and jewelry back, the other woman asked to be taken to a shopping center in Columbia and told her she would leave the bag with the victim's money and jewelry behind, police said.

After dropping off the woman and opening the bag - which supposedly contained the $75,000 - she saw it was filled with scrap paper.

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