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88-year-old woman scammed out of $10K by hustlers: DA

Jan. 10, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

Two women have been sentenced to prison for scamming an elderly woman in Jackson Heights out of more than $10,000 in cash, District Attorney Richard Brown announced yesterday.

The two convicted suspects, along with another woman whose case has not yet been resolved, tricked the 88-year-old victim with a “found money” scheme to get her to hand over cash.

“The defendants approached their victim with a purse full of money  – which in reality was just ‘theatrical money’ – and claimed they had ‘found’ the cash and offered to share the windfall with her if she helped them pay the taxes on the bag of cash. The defendants in this case each pleaded guilty to a felony and will be incarcerated for their crime,” Brown said.

The women were sentenced to several years in prison.

Juanita Lamb, 58, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property in November and was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison. Deanna Rhett, 60, also pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny in October and was sentenced to two to four years in prison. Both will also have five years of post-release supervision. A third defendant’s case is not yet resolved.

According to the charges, the third suspect approached the victim on August 1, 2015 at the intersection of 77th Street and 31st Avenue around 1:30 p.m., engaging her in conversation. As they talked, Rhett came up to them with a bag of what appeared to be $100,000, though it was actually theatrical money.

Rhett told the victim that she had found the purse with cash in it, and was willing to share some of the found money if the woman helped pay taxes on it. Lamb drove up in a Buick and offered to give the woman a ride home, all agreeing to meet another day to pay the taxes and split the cash.

The three defendants picked up the woman at her home on August 3, 2015 and brought her to Queens County Savings Bank, where she withdrew $10,300. The victim returned to the car and handed the money to Rhett, and the defendants drove her home, saying she needed some proof of her address to pay the taxes.

The victim went in to her house to get her identification, but by the time she returned to the car, the three defendants were gone.

Several members of the NYPD Anti-Theft Squad stopped the defendants’ vehicle and recovered all of the cash. They found $3,100 on the drivers seat floor, $4,100 on the front passenger seat floor, and $3,100 in the third defendant’s waistband.

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