3 On Your Side: Man Scams WWII Vet Out Of $95,000

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jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — He scammed an elderly man out of $95,000 while posing as Philadelphia’s District Attorney!  Now a Cobbs Creek man is behind bars and the real District Attorney wants to keep him there for good.  3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan joins us with this details.

The victim in this case is 93-years-old, scammed by a man from his neighborhood that he had hired to cut his lawn and do odd jobs.

Shelton Thomas, 47, is being held on $750,000 bail, charged with Theft by Deception, Theft by Extortion and Impersonating a Public Servant.  “This defendant decided that earning money by cutting grass, clearing debris, removing snow, wasn’t enough,” says Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.  Williams says that Thomas stole $95,0000 from 93-year old Raymond Campbell.

Thomas told Campbell that he’d been arrested for illegally dumping grass clipping from Campbell’s yard and convinced him to pay bogus court costs.  According to District Attorney Williams, “That grew into the defendant repeatedly over the course of 3 years calling the victim, claiming to be the District Attorney, Seth Williams, and claiming that Mr. Campbell had owed fines and fees to the city.”

The scam was revealed when Campbell’s relatives started asking questions.  His nephew Timothy Johnson says, “How do you get from cutting grass to $95,000?  Well we’re here to tell you that it can happen to you.”

The District Attorney is now offering a warning to seniors that no one from the city will ever call asking for money.  Williams says, “The District Attorney does not call anyone directly to tell them that they owe money.  If money is owed by a defendant, a witness, a victim to the courts, the courts send letters, often certified letters.”

This is another example of why is you have elderly relatives, friends, or neighbors, that you check-in on them and be sure they aren’t shelling out money to anyone claiming to be with the courts, the I.R.S., you name it.  While this type of scam isn’t unusual, the amount of money involved is.   If convicted on all counts, Shelton Thomas could spend years in prison.

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