GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Garfield Heights Police busted a trio they say were involved in a scam that included stealing more than $35,000 from an elderly woman.
"This is as dirty as you can get," says Sgt. James Mendolera.
Detectives say the suspects got their hands on thousands of phone numbers and called residents waiting for their victim to fall for the scam. Police say the ring leader, 58-year-old Richard Smith, used his cell phone to make those calls, posing as a cop. They say Smith told the victim he was investigating counterfeiting at local banks.
"He gains the person's confidence. The person goes to the bank, withdraws a certain amount of cash. In this case it was 3,000, 5,000 at a time," explains Mendolera.
Someone from the bank called police, concerned that the 82-year-old woman was withdrawing large amounts of cash. The real police nabbed Smith while they say he was trying to scam another victim. But not before they say he and his helpers, 56-year-old Carl Fletcher and 59-year-old Renata Devontenno, used counterfeit money in a drop-and-pickup scam.
Police believe there are other victims out there.
"I think she thought she was helping the police department. That's what she thought. But instead, she got scammed," says Mendolera.
All three suspects are charged with theft.