March 30, 2016 Staff Report
It looked like a sweet deal, but it ended up costing thousands.
Three women have been charged with stealing more than $10,000 from an elderly woman with what’s known as a “found money” scam.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, defendants Juanita Lamb, Donna Saunders and Deanna Rhett allegedly pretended that they had found a purse filled with $100,000, and told their 88-year-old victim that if she helped them pay taxes on it, they would split they money with her.
The alleged robbery took place in early August last year. According to the charges, Saunders initiated the scam by starting a conversation with the victim at 77th Street and 31st Avenue. While they were speaking, Rhett approached and showed the victim what appeared to be a purse filled with $100,000, and allegedly stated that she had found it on the floor and was willing to share the money if they helped her pay taxes on it.
Lamb then appeared in a Buick, offered the victim a ride home and they all agreed to meet a couple of days later to pay the taxes and share the money, charges state.
When they met back up, the three defendants allegedly drove the victim to Queens County Savings Bank, where she entered alone and withdrew $10,300 for the taxes, then came back to the vehicle and gave the money to Rhett. They then drove her home to get some proof of her address.
When the victim came back out, the three women were gone.
Brown said that there are many variations of the “found money” scam, and that scammers often target elderly people because they tend to live alone and have atssets such as savings, pensions or retirement benefits to pull from.
The NYPD’s Organized Theft Squad ultimately recovered $10,300 from the defendants’ vehicle and from Saunders’ waistband. They also found wigs in various colors and numerous fake $100 bills.
If convicted, the defendants face up to seven years in prison, according to Brown.
Dan Hochheiser, Lamb’s attorney, said that she entered a not guilty plea at the arraignment.
“Regardless of what the District Attorney’s press release claims, my client is presumed innocent,” Hoccheiser said. When asked for further comment, he added, “I prefer to litigate cases in the court, not in the press.”
Rhett nor Saunders’ attorneys could not be reached for comment as of press time.
-B Because elderly are much more vulnerable. They suffer from diminished capacity caused by dementia, alzheimers disease, over medication and an array of other conditions that impair judgement.
Stop referring to people as elderly. Anyone scammed is the same thing. Young, black, white, brown.. 40 something.. why is this different?