General Crime

Scammers Steal $4K in Cash, Jewelry From Elderly Victim in El Cerrito

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Police are attempting to locate two men who scammed an elderly woman out of about $4,000 in cash and jewelry on Thursday by claiming they needed help to claim a winning lottery ticket. Around 3 p.m., a 66-year-old Richmond woman was shopping at Marshall’s at 10759 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito when two men approached her and showed her what they said was their winning lotto ticket, police Lt. Paul Keith said.

The two suspects asked the woman for a ride to Oakland to redeem the ticket and said they needed $20,000 to claim the prize, according to police. While the woman was hesitant to believe the men at first, a phone call with another suspect posing as a customer service agent backed up their story and convinced her to help the suspects. The woman drove the pair to her Richmond home where she retrieved roughly $4,000 worth of jewelry and cash and handed it over to the suspects, Keith said.

At some point while driving the men to Oakland, they used a ruse to have her stop the car, got out and fled with her cash and jewelry, he said. Police said the suspects are both described as Hispanic men with black hair and brown eyes and are each roughly 6 feet tall and weigh about 200 pounds. The first suspect, who appeared to be the main actor in the scam, was believed to be between 35 and 40 years old and was wearing a gray suit and white dress shirt, according to police. The second suspect was described as being in his 50s and was wearing a brown jacket and brown pants at the time of the crime.

Police said both remain at large and are wanted on suspicion of grand theft, fraud and elder abuse. Keith said the suspects’ lotto story is a typical type of scam used mainly to target elderly people. In these types of scams, he said, one or two suspects usually convince a victim to go home or to an ATM to retrieve cash and valuables in order to help them come up with the money supposedly needed to redeem their winnings. “If somebody comes forward with a problem like that, redirect them to someplace that can help them and call the police,” the lieutenant said. Police are working to obtain surveillance video from the area that might help them identify the two suspects, Keith said.

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