Schemers have come up with yet another way to defraud older, trusting people of their cash. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is warning of the scheme, staged by an older black couple at the expense of at least three Palm Coast victims since spring, usually in the parking lot of large shopping centers. They call themselves John and Sue. They have yet to be found.
Dorothy is a 78-year-old resident of Palm Coast’s B-Section. She had finished her shopping at Walmart and carted her groceries to her car. As she was placing the bags in the trunk of her car, a couple approached her. The man told Dorothy he was a Walmart employee and was trying to return a package left behind in a shopping cart. The man told Dorothy he had a small package filled with cash, and that he was going to report it to store management.
The man walks away, then turns around, comes back toward Dorothy and tells her: “We could have the money if we could show that we had the money already.”
It didn’t make much sense, but schemers aren’t into making sense to vulnerable people. The woman who’d initially approached Dorothy with the man then showed her an envelope, said it contained a large sum of money, and that if Dorothy could match the amount, she could get some of the money in the envelope. But she had to prove that she had the money to match it first, the woman told her.
Dorothy went to her SunTrust bank and got a cashier’s check for $8,000. Back at Walmart, the woman told her that the “boss” wanted the money in cash. Dorothy went back to SunTrust, got the $8,000 in cash, returned to the Walmart parking lot, and handed the sum to the man.
Dorothy could not describe the couple much other than they were both black, and that the man may have been wearing jeans.
Once the couple had the money, they told her they were going to talk to their boss and would return. Of course, they never did. They’d stolen Dorothy’s $8,000.
That incident took place in April. Suzanne, an employee at a store in the Target shopping center, was similarly victimized this week. A black woman had struck up a conversation in the parking lot about her windshield when the woman was joined by a black man who started repeating the same things the couple had told Dorothy, using the same figures: they said they had an envelope with $68,000 in it, in cash. If Suzanne gave them $500, they said they’d split the cash with her three ways. Again, it didn’t make sense.
Suzanne may have sensed it. She walked back to her car. They followed her–and got in her car, without her permission. The woman sat up front. The man sat in the back seat. The man asked Suzanne if she had enough money to “sustain” her for 30 days. He asked her how much money she had in the bank and whether she had access to it all. Suzanne’s answer didn’t satisfy them: it wasn’t enough money. They got out and left.
But she could describe them to deputies with some detail: The black man is about 50-55 years old, 5ft. 9in. to 5ft. 10in., 160-170 pounds. He was wearing khaki pant with a brown striped short sleeve shirt worn outside of his pants and a solid black colored kangaroo hat. He has a dark ruddy complexion. He introduced himself as “John Johnson.” He did most of the talking. He said the victim could validate who he was by checking at Ross, where he claimed he was employed. The black woman is 60-70 years old, around 5 feet tall, about 135-140 lb., with a dark ruddy complexion, wearing yellow pants, short sleeve pink shirt with polka dots. She introduced herself as Sue. She was carrying a Louis Vuitton bag.
The pair had struck yet another victim in the Publix parking lot on Belle Terre Parkway in June–same approach, same early-afternoon time, with a slight variation. They’d asked for just $320.
“It is a sad reality but there are people out there who are constantly dreaming up new ways to scam seniors,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “You work hard for your money; don’t be a victim. If anyone approaches you in a parking lot that you do not know claiming to have found cash, suggest that they call the Sheriff’s Office and if they won’t then you should. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
If you have any information, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 386-313-4911, email TIPS@FlaglerSheriff.com, or call CrimeStoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS.
For more information on crimes against seniors, visit https://agesafeamerica.com/crime-prevention/