Elderly couple loses nearly $14K in fraud scheme

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

CONGRESS, Ariz. -- The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says an elderly couple was swindled out of nearly $14,000 in a fraud scheme.

The man and woman, who are in their 90s, received a phone call earlier this month from someone who identified himself only as Tony. He told them they had won a Mercedes-Benz car but needed to pay a $1,200 processing fee.

The elderly man purchased a Green Dot MoneyPak card for that amount and shared the card number with Tony.

Over the next few days, the man purchased more prepaid cards at Tony's request, spending more than $11,000.

Within days, the couple received a call from a man named John who said they had won several gold bricks. The man demanded that John give him the prize in person.

John requested money for airfare to Congress, Ariz., and the man complied by giving him $1,000.

The two arranged to meet at a market in town but John never showed. He later called the couple and demanded additional money for the trip. The man sent another $1,000.

The man eventually called the sheriff's office to report that he had been scammed.

He told deputies on March 15 that he had never entered any contests to win gold or a car. The sheriff's office said he had a difficult time recalling details and seemed confused by the scam.

Deputies determined John and Tony were the same person and that the calls originated in Jamaica.

The sheriff's office said receipts from the prepaid card purchases showed a loss of $13,600.

Deputies referred the man and woman to Adult Protective Services for follow-up counseling and contacted their son.

The sheriff's office encourages people to pay attention to suspicious phone calls, mail, and Internet activity involving their older family members.