UnNews:Elderly scam artists on the rise

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Elyria, OH, March 21 - "They knocked on my door asking if I wanted to buy any Granny Scout cookies," begins Tina Sciallo tearfully. "I felt bad making them stand on the doorstep showing me the different cookies, so I invited them in and we talked inside," she says. "I got the Denture Delights," she adds unnecessarily.

Suspiciouselderly

This couple is suspected in multiple robbery cases. Have you seen them?

It wasn't until the next day that Tina went into her purse for her lipstick and noticed it was missing. Also, she noticed the purse was empty. "There used to be $150 in my wallet. It was the first thing I checked for, since I needed to buy some... medicine. But it wasn't there!"

Tina is not the first victim of such a ruse in recent months. "We've been seeing an increase through much of the lower-Ohio region in elderly scam artists," says Lt. Jim Gooden of the Elyria P.D. "We've been trying to get the word out ever since we became aware of the problem, but the public has largely been incredulous."

Lt. Gooden feels the problem is that no one is willing to believe that a grandmother can commit crimes, especially those of such an overt and shameless nature. "People need to wake up," he adds, "this is the 21st century, and what with that Medicaid nonsense, it's only natural that some older folks are going to turn to crime if they can't get coverage."

The Elyria P.D. has begun an information campaign called "Grannies Can Scam Too." "Hopefully this can prevent folks like Ms. Sciallo from being duped by these senior scammers, these doddering do-badniks, these geriatric jailbirds, these..." continues Lt. Gooden.

Toughbiddy

Some of the elderly scam artists have taken up weight-training and self-defense. Do not attempt to stop an elderly scam artist yourself; call the police right away.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the team of seniors who took Ms. Sciallo's pocketbook are going to be apprehended any time soon. "Basically, the problem is that all old people look alike," complains Doug Green, sketch artist for the Elyria P.D. "I mean, short-ish gray hair, lots of wrinkles, warts, ear-hair, yadayadayada," he elaborates. "It's gotten so I just have one generic "old lady" sketch, and one "old man" sketch, and I just show one to the victim, and they say, "That's the one." It's not very helpful to the police here."

Tina has some advice for anyone who thinks they're safe from this type of crime. "You're not." She adds, "If they ask to use your bathroom, take all the meds out of the cabinet first. If they want to sell dentures or whatever, just turn them away. It's not worth it." Sadly, Ms. Sciallo has found that her bad experience has damaged her trust in old people. "I used to think, if you had gray hair, you were a good person. Now I think, only the good die young, so that must mean all old people are bad."

If you notice any suspicious activity in your neighborhood, such as groups of aged men or women gathering together, notify your local police department without hesitation. You might just be averting the next elderly scam.

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