VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Vancouver Police have busted three locals accused of scamming seniors in the US. In both cases, the elderly victims were left financially devastated.
The VPD says there has been a spike in lottery schemes, with five already being investigated this year, compared to the usual two or three. But today, the Financial Crimes Unit is celebrating arrests in two cases.
A man from Surrey is accused of using a lottery scam to have a 76-year-old man from Pittsburgh wire money he kept in a sock drawer to an account in Vancouver. Richard Williams, 30, is charged with fraud over $5,000.
In a similar case, a Vancouver couple is accused of scamming an 89-year-old California woman out of $70,000. Nazifa Raza, 27, and her husband Saheem Raza, 30, are charged with fraud over $5,000 and forgery. Another relative, Fareed Raza, 38, is charged with forgery in an unrelated investigation but was arrested at the same time.
Three other cases with Vancouver connections are under investigation, involving victims in their 70s and 80s, linked to Wisconsin, Arizona, and Montana.
Victims suffered from illnesses
VPD Detective Linda Grange says even with an arrest, it’s often too late to get the money back.
“I can’t help but think about my own parents,” she tells us. “Something that’s common between all of these files — that’s really, really sad — is that generally speaking, there’s some kind of illness or some kind of dementia that’s been setting in.”
“It is absolutely heartbreaking when you talk to these victims and find out their situation,” Grange adds. “They’re basically giving their life savings to these bottom-feeders.”
She notes when victims learn they’ve been duped, they are often too embarrassed to tell their families or police.
Grange is urges anyone who feels victimized to report it without hesitation. She urges children of elderly parents to watch for red flags.