Four men have been arrested, accused of bilking elderly Pennsylvanians out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The state attorney general announced the arrests Tuesday in Harrisburg and described in frightening detail how the men allegedly ripped off their victims.
The suspects all hail from the Philadelphia area, but their alleged victims come from all over the state, including 23 people from northeastern and central Pennsylvania.
The story of the arrests is meant as a cautionary tale to elderly folks all across the commonwealth, including those who live at the Jackson Heights high-rise.
Joe Roche of Scranton is 71 years old and diabetic. By his own account, life these days is tough.
“With me it’s not the greatest. I have a hard time walking around and stuff,” Roche said.
His life got a lot tougher about three weeks ago, when he said someone called and tried to sell him diabetic equipment.
They asked him for his Social Security number. “I gave them it,” Roche said.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly announced the arrests of four men from the Philadelphia area accused of bilking seniors, much like Roche, out of more than $700,000.
The attorney general said the four were selling bogus home care companies that promised older folks from all over Pennsylvania health care services and security for their homes.
“All four members of this fraud scheme face a series of criminal charges including, theft, insurance fraud, conspiracy and other offenses,” Kelly said.
Roche was lucky. With help from managers at the high-rise, he was able to contact his bank before he became a victim of another potential scam.
Some of his neighbors are already on alert.
“Over the past month, I am getting a lot of unknown calls, private calls,” said neighbor Gracie Johnson, “and I do not answer the phone to the calls that I’m not familiar with.”
News of the massive scheme hit home with people there.
“I think it’s horrible because as I go, I respect the elderly, the elderly worked very hard all their life for their savings,” Johnson added.
The state attorney general said the men may have been based out of the Philadelphia area, but they did make house calls.
Linda Kelly said in once case a 79-year-old retired school teacher from central Pennsylvania who was widowed and living alone was visited nearly 40 times.
The crooks, according to authorities, took more than $57,000 from that woman alone.