A man from Camden has been indicted for allegedly scamming an elderly woman out of $16,000 by falsely claiming the money was needed to bail her grandson out of jail.

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According to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, Yadiel Gonzalez of Camden is facing one count of third-degree theft by deception.

Authorities say an investigation began last year when a woman contacted the Palmyra Police Department to report the scam, which began with a phone call.

During the call, the victim spoke to someone whose voice resembled her grandson.

The storyline of the scam was that her grandson had caused a traffic accident in Pennsylvania that resulted in injuries to a pregnant woman, and had been arrested. The money was needed to post bail.

The victim agreed to help the person she believed was her grandson and handed over the money during a meeting with a courier in Palmyra.

Big Help

That in-person meeting turned out to be a big help to police. Not only did the victim know the license plate of the car the courier was driving, but a detective was also able to pull fingerprints from a hand-written receipt the courier gave the woman. Those fingerprints were traced back to the defendant, according to Coffina.

Elderly Scams are Frequent and Costly

A report from The American Journal of Public Health says about five percent of the elderly population in America, which is about three million people, suffer from scams each year.

According to Consumer Affairs, the average senior will lose $34,200 in a scam, which equates to over $3 billion every year. The older a person is, especially over the age of 80, the more vulnerable they are.

If your gut tells you something doesn’t seem right about a financial transaction, you should follow that instinct, step back and take another look at the situation. You do not have to wait until you’ve been victimized to contact law enforcement. If you think someone is trying to rip you off, call your police department. -Scott Coffina

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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