An elderly Redding woman has been hit by scammers over and over, taking thousands of dollars since November. Her niece, Cindy Clarke, is working in overdrive to keep ahead of the scammers out for her 92-year-old aunt’s money.
“It's been almost $15,000 and there's no way to get that back at this point," explained Clarke.
She contacted the FBI after first approaching the Redding Police Department about her aunt getting taken for more than $2,000 in November.
"I did contact the FBI, and this is part of an ongoing investigation," said Clarke.
The con-artists first contacted Clarke’s aunt over the phone, and told her she had won $450,000 but she needed to first send them money to collect her prize.
"When they targeted her the first time, just know that's probably not going to be it. They're going to keep after her and keep after her,” said Clarke.
She knows some of the calls to her aunt originated from Jamaica, based on phone bill records.
"You know they're very organized, they're very bold, they're strong. They know exactly what to say and she was vulnerable and they took advantage of that. And they really endeared themselves to her and she mentioned at one point that they were someone to talk to, so there was an element of loneliness that factored into all this that made her more vulnerable," explained Clarke.
She did all she could to keep the scammers at bay, changing her aunt’s home phone numbers, having the bank alert her whenever her aunt went to make a withdrawal and checking bank statements. But that didn’t seem to be enough.
Clarke said the scammers took their intent to take money from her aunt to the next level. Clarke said the con-artists sent people to her aunt’s home, twice, to “check-up” on her and insert themselves back into her and her bank account.
"They are brazen enough, they actually called when the police where there and the police told them not to call again and they actually had the nerve to call back and then they still pursued her because they're getting away with it,” said Clarke.
Knowing what she does now, Clarke said she would have done a few things differently when she first suspected scammers were involved.
"One of the big things I would have done differently is putting the obituary in the newspaper," said Clarke.
Clarke believes publicly placing her aunt’s late-husband’s obituary in the paper is what led the scammers to her aunt.
"They put two and two together and realized she was elderly too. She makes the perfect target and they assume that she's lonely, which she was," explained Clarke.
The FBI’s website has information for identifying senior citizens that could be getting scammed.