Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Elderly Death Threats
Senior citizens can lose their life-savings to con men who target them on a regular basis. But even when they don't fall for the rip off, they can still be victims. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case of an elderly woman who lost something much more valuable than money.
WSVN -- The same month this woman celebrated her 87th birthday. A voice on the other end of the phone shattered her sense of security. It all started with a scam.
Rosemary: "Just the way he talked it scares you to death."
Rosemary is so afraid the bad guy could be watching she asked us to hide her face. She says when he first called her he knew her first and last name. Probably because she is listed in the phone book. The call soon turned to a big promise of big bucks, but first she'd have to send him more than $500 for taxes.
Rosemary: "You have won 2 million, 500 thousand dollars. And I said 'Scam, scam, scam.'"
So Rosemary told the caller no, no, no.
Rosemary: "He called me back again, and he said, 'You better get the money this time' and I didn't answer him."
And then the calls got very ugly.
Man's recording: "(Expletive) you Mrs. Rosemary, I will kill you right now you (expletive) whore."
Rosemary was terrified.
Man's recording: "Even if you don't answer the phone, I will be calling you and I will still be calling you every (expletive) minute of the day. Answer the phone Mrs. Rosemary, pick up the (expletive) phone."
Rosemary says the man called her an astonishing 17 times in one day, and on each recording the language spewing from her answering machine became increasingly vile and laced with death threats.
Man's recording: "(Expletive) you Rosemary, (expletive) you Rose (expletive) Mary. You don't know me, OK, you don't know my family, you don't know what we are capable of, OK? I don't even want to see your house on that piece of land, I'll burn it to the ground. I will kill you right now."
Carmel: "He frightens you?"
Rosemary: "He scared me to death. I don't know if he's living two blocks away from me or if he lives 10,000 miles away. I have no idea where he is."
The problem is the majority of the time neither do authorities the phone numbers used in the scams are often impossible to trace, leaving local police with few leads.
Det. Mary Jo LaMont: "This person has stolen her peace-of-mind from her."
Miami-Dade Police Detective Mary Jo Lamont investigates crimes against the elderly.
Det. Mary Jo LaMont: "There has been an uptick in elderly exploitation in the past several years."
Detective Lamont says seniors are the perfect targets for this type of crime. Older people are more likely to engage these creeps in the first place.
Det. Mary Jo LaMont: "They were from a time where you said 'Please and thank you' you said 'Yes sir and no sir.' To hang up on somebody would be considered rude."
And often times seniors do not have loved ones looking out for them luckily for Rosemary she does.
Kathie Hutson: "I feel like her sense of security has been ruined forever."
Kathie Hutson is Rosemary's niece. She says the worst part of the whole ordeal for her aunt was the fraudsters' use of the "h" word.
Man's recording: "I hate you, I hate you so much."
Kathie Hutson: "I'm sure that that had more of an effect even then killing her, I really do."
Carmel: "The threats in this case are probably empty threats and all those calls are unusual. But to have someone threatening your life is unsettling to say the least. If you get targeted, regardless of your age, experts say don't engage these con artists in conversation. Just be rude and hang up."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Alliance for Aging, Inc.
Miami-Dade & Monroe Counties
Broward Aging Alliance