Woman charged with forgery, fraud and theft of grandfather’s moneyMay 11, 2022
LADY LAKE — In an outrageous case of forgery, fraud and theft of a senior, a 40-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with ripping off her grandfather to the tune of more than $66,000.
It’s not just the amount that shocked her family. She went after $100,000 he received from the government for injuries caused by the Agent Orange herbicide in the Vietnam War. Plus, she is being accused of trying three times to claim she was the power of attorney, with legal control of the man’s assets.
The scheme is just one example of the scams that law enforcement tries to prevent. Often, the victims are seniors, but not always.
“It can be anybody at all,” said Sumter County Sheriff’s Detective Jeffrey Cohen, who investigates financial crimes. “Any profession, any background.”
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‘That has to be right’
Bill Farmer, Sumter County’s longtime sheriff whose territory includes The Villages, said one of his top priorities is trying to keep seniors from being ripped off.
One of his weapons is on The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office app called Sumter Scam Sting. Citizens can post warnings and share complaints about scams.
Many crimes are committed over the internet. People get an email demanding payment for a service they did not purchase, for example. They are directed to go to a store to buy gift cards or get cryptocurrency to pay before they even have a chance to think about why they are getting billed for something they did not buy. Sometimes the scammer will stay on the phone with the victim, giving instructions in case a store clerk asks questions.
Some scammers go to the trouble to create fake websites and phone numbers to trick their victims.
“That has to be right,” consumers think when they see numbers to call, Cohen said.
Identity theft is a huge problem. The Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million complaints last year, 1-in-4 of the fraudulent reports, according to AARP.
Thieves do everything from stealing “snail mail” to hacking computers at banks, utilities and big tech firms. Sometimes they send legit-looking phishing emails that unleash malware.
Cohen said many people did not know they were scammed during the Covid pandemic until they received notice of attempted unemployment compensation or other benefits.
“Consumers reported more than 800,000 cases of identity theft tied to government benefits or documents to the FTC in 2020 and 2021, compared to fewer than 75,000 in the previous three years combined,” AARP said in its Fraud Resource Center report.
Some scams are tied to current events, like fake charities seeking donations for Ukraine war…