BREWSTER, Ohio – An unusually bold case of fraud led a 91-year-old woman to hand over nearly $7,000 cash to a stranger at her door.
“She could have been kidnapped, pushed down, taken into the house, home invasion gone wrong,” said Brewster police detective Aaron Keener. “She could have been deprived of a lot more.”
Brewster police in Stark County said the victim was told her grandson was in jail in Canton and needed money to be released.
It started with a phone call Tuesday when police said a man called the victim claiming to be an attorney representing the grandson who needed $6,800 cash.
“The attorney called and gave strict instructions. ‘We want cash, not a check,’ and had requested she go to the post office and get a priority mailbox and then put the cash in the box, seal it and that a bondsman would be by to pick it up,” said Keener.
Police said the caller knew her grandson’s name and the type of vehicle he drove to make the fraud seem more realistic.
The man claiming to be an attorney also described the type of car the bondsman would later use to come to the victim’s home. Police shared a picture of what is believed to be a silver Ford Focus, captured near the house on Tuscarawas Avenue NW.
“Obviously this is a ring,” said Keener. “The said bondsman, he’s probably a mule. He’s just the pickup, delivery guy. Most likely the reason why it was out in a priority box, he probably has a P.O. BOX or address where he will just mail the package off and then most likely retrieve payment from whoever is running this ring or operation.”
Police said they have not encountered an instance of fraud that escalated so fast, from seeking money over the phone to collecting cash in person the same day.
They urge others to be vigilant of scams and said this particular incident is rare and alarming.
“If you get a suspicious phone call, suspicious email, text message, contact your local authorities,” said Keener. “We can do various checks. We can contact the jail, the hospitals or just check the legitimacy… give advice on moving forward before you give any cash to anybody for anything.”
Keener said it’s possible the victim might have been tracked as she gathered the money in order to ensure she did not report the incident to police prior to the fake bondsman arriving.