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DIGGING DEEPER: Senior Shakedown

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TUCSON - A 94-year-old man with memory issues was taken advantage of by scammers.

The victim is in a retirement facility and the scammers got away with nearly $100,000.

The Digging Deeper team uncovered court documents that reveal the vulnerability of this elderly man.

A six-page document from authorities went into detail on how the 94-year old man was taken advantage of. It also explains how the victim withdrew the money and sent a cashier's check to the thieves.

Sahuarita Police Department said this kind of scam was a first for them.

On Nov. 15, 2019, police were called about a fraud case.

“It was brought to our attention by the victim's son who had been monitoring his bank accounts,” said Sgt. Mike Blevins with the Sahuarita Police Department.

The victim's account was at Tucson Federal Credit Union and that's where the first cashier's check was issued for $30,000 last October.

Then about two weeks later, a second check for nearly $50,000 was issued.

In both cases, the victim went to the bank and withdrew the money.

It was a phone scam.

The thieves told the victim they could help him with his computer, so the victim gave them access to it.

Then, the thieves called a second time and told them they were police officers.  They said he had been scammed and that he needed their help.

“They wanted him to partner with the police department to catch some people who were doing fraudulent schemes,” said Sgt. Blevins.

The victim was told to mail the checks to an out-of-town address where police would be waiting: “To arrest criminals that were going to receive these checks when they were delivered,” said Blevins.

News 4 Tucson spoke with the victim's son over the phone.

To protect his identity and his father's, we aren't naming them.

The son says his dad is doing fine, but the son himself is not. 

“I felt very angry seeing my father who worked hard his whole life making an honest living and then be taken advantage of in his old age by really dishonest individuals,” the victim's son said.

The victim’s son goes on to say it was through a casual conversation that he learned his father, who has memory issues, had been scammed.

 “At first, it’s disbelief and it's trying to ask enough questions that you piece the whole thing together that you can start to understand what's happening,” the son said.

The son followed up and checked the bank statements.

“Some of it even is blaming yourself for not doing a better job when you are entrusted to take care of an elderly parent, and following up on them on a regular basis,” the son said.

He also said the scammers are very skillful at what they do and prey on the elderly. 

“These people don't have a heart," he said.

The message Sgt. Blevins wants to get out is that police departments would never ask a citizen to give their own money in an investigation and if you aren't sure if you're being scammed, hang up and call police.

As for the investigation, Blevins said they have some good leads and are working with other law enforcement agencies to bring the people responsible to justice.

Carla Litto

Digital content producer for KVOA News 4 Tucson. Carla previously interned at the NBC affiliate. She is currently a senior at UArizona majoring in journalism.

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