Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Operation Silver Dollar
A South Florida man spends tens of thousands of dollars for yard work that never gets done. Police believe he's the victim of a group of landscapers exploiting the elderly. Today, the Broward Sheriff's Office cracked down. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has more on what officers call Operation Silver Dollar.
WSVN -- It was before dawn and deputies from the Broward Sheriff's Office were armed with arrest warrants for a group of people believed to be behind an ongoing case of elderly exploitation. Among them they found Daniel Smith who was clearly surprised.
Daniel Smith: "I have no idea. I have no idea."
William Brown was silent.
Carmel Cafiero: "So what do you have to say about being arrested this morning?"
And Raphael Ramirez had little to say.
Raphael Ramirez: "I...have no questions."
Authorities say these three and six other men and women, are all involved in lawn and tree trimming businesses that have cost a world war two veteran dearly. Seymour is 87, he's a retired insurance agent living in a modest home in Hollywood. His family has asked we protect his identity.
Seymour: "What did I make a check out for $1,200?"
Seymour has written a lot of checks for yard work, but he's not clear on how much he paid, who he paid or even why he paid his niece who asked we only use her first name. Discovered Seymour has been writing checks for work she doubts was ever done.
Pamella: "The kind of money that was getting shelled out, didn't warrant this property."
Pamella discovered checks and invoices from several individuals and companies that add up to $11,425 from April to July.
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you think about the fact you spent $11,000 with these folks?"
Seymour: "It's too much."
Pamella says her uncle's mind is not as sharp as it once was, and she believes he is being targeted.
Pamella: "I'm devastated. I'm devastated and I'm sad that it has, that people are coming in, and literally using him as a meal ticket."
Carmel Cafiero: "After spending more than $11,000 you might expect Seymour's yard to look pretty lush, maybe even a fountain or a fish pond. But look around, this yard is small and nothing special is going on."
The undercover detective on the case has discovered the yard work tab was even more. He says close to $20,000 in a two year period.
Undercover Deputy: "And he's very vulnerable as are many of the elderly people here in South Florida. They're vulnerable to this type of scam."
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you want these people to come back?"
Carmel Cafiero: "Think they might have taken advantage of you?"
Seymour: "For that kind of money, yes."
Pamella has tried to protect her uncle by posting a sign in his window warning "You will not be paid. There is no money."
Pamella: "He has the right to live in his home, in peace, happiness and harmony and live his life."
But despite her efforts, Pamela says Seymour recently wrote another check to cash for $1,000 for yard work.
Authorities need your help finding others named in warrants in connection with the case. Among them: Charles wolfe and Carol Wolfe.
7News learning just moments ago, William Tinnell has been arrested.
If you have any information, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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