An elderly Louisiana man was fooled into getting into a car with strangers then taking money out of an ATM – in a “bizarre” incident that may be the latest scam targeting well-intentioned older men and women.
Two scammers claiming to be from overseas and working with local charities approached the victim and convinced him to get in their vehicle in Terrebonne Parish, about an hour southwest of New Orleans, authorities said.
They accompanied him to a local bank, where he withdrew an undisclosed “large sum of money” under false pretenses that the suspects later swiped, according to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office. The suspects returned the man to his car and then took off.
The sheriff’s office called the incident “bizarre” in comment to Fox News Digital, but warned that it could be indicative of how crafty criminals are adapting to target victims for easy cash.
“I would refer to it as bizarre for our community,” 1st Lt. Blake Tabor said. “Without having the information to say what other jurisdictions have seen, I know this one is unique to us.”
“This could certainly be an indication of how suspects in this type of crime are changing their tactics and are more emboldened. I think you could certainly argue that,” Tabor added.
A face-to-face scam targeting the elderly is rare, but has played out before, including in Bossier City, Louisiana, in 2021 when a man and woman allegedly scammed the elderly into withdrawing money from an ATM.
Scams targeting the elderly more often play out online or through phone calls from criminals. Last year in Michigan, a couple lost $350,000 when they received an alert on their computer to call a phone number. When called, a suspect pretended to be Apple support, and the couple was compelled to make multiple withdrawals from different banks and transferred the money to a Bitcoin ATM.
Local detectives said at the time that the money is “nearly impossible to trace” and likely would not be recovered.
Tabor said that the amount of scams his office has seen in recent years correlates with how crime has risen across the U.S. in recent years, but again stressed that a face-to-face scam is rare.
It also appears that the crime in Terrebonne Parish was not targeted.
“I think that it was a crime of opportunity,” Tabor said. “I think all indications are that they just saw the male and just contacted him at that point.”
Tabor advised that people, especially senior citizens, should stay alert to potential scammers that often try to pull on victims’ heartstrings before stealing funds.
“What we’ve seen with our elderly is the suspects tend to target social issues that may be held near and dear to the elderly’s heart,” he said. “I think it’s kind of business as usual for the scammers that they try to use information that really taps into the heart and soul of the victim.”
Tabor called on Americans to use “common sense” when interacting with strangers and to watch out for “red flags,” and especially stressed that members of the public should never get into a vehicle with a person they do not know.
“The suspects claimed to be from out of the country,” Tabor said of the specific case in his jurisdiction. “They claimed to be working with local charities. They claim to be wanting you to make large cash with withdrawals. They wanted to personally take him to a financial institution. A lot of these decisions are not decisions that we want anybody to make.”
The case is still under investigation. Those with information on the case are asked to alert authorities, including by calling Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office Detectives at (985)876-2500 or submitting a tip on CrimeStoppersBR.org.