EXCLUSIVE: Water Department Imposters Target Elderly Victims in East Oak Lane
By Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An Eyewitness News Exclusive – A new twist on a familiar scam.
Suspects impersonating water department workers strike in Philadelphia and the victims spoke only to Eyewitness News.
Dorothy Hamilton, 83, and her husband Lloyd, 91, were aware of the utility worker imposter scams and knew to ask for badges should anyone come knocking on their doors.
Lloyd explained, “What threw me off was that vial of water. It was like frosted water.”
Turns out, in this case, the suspect arrived with a vial of muddy water in hand, claiming that was a water sample taken from his neighbors.
“And he said, there’s something wrong with the system in your neighborhood because they were working down the street,” Lloyd recalled.
In fact, Lloyd says there was utility work being done in the area so unfortunately, he let his guard down.
Dorothy recalled, “I said what do you want? He said I want to check your water. He said to me, go in the kitchen and turn both of the waters on. He said turn them off and on, off and on.”
The suspect instructed Lloyd to do the same in the basement.
“And I was standing there like a dope, turning the spigot off and on, off and on when he went out.”
While the two were distracted, we’re told the suspect broke into a safe in the basement closet, grabbed what he could and disappeared. Turns out, there was nothing of value in that safe for others, just paperwork important to the Hamiltons.
It happened Monday afternoon in Philadelphia’s East Oak Lane neighborhood. The Hamiltons are grateful they were not physically hurt and are hoping by sharing their story, they can prevent someone else from falling victim.
Lloyd said, “I want people to be very careful, we opened the door, don’t open the door.”
Dorothy believes the suspect worked with an accomplice. She recalls hearing the voice of a second man in her home but did not catch his face. As for the suspect, the victims described him as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’6” with a medium build who at the time was dressed in all black and wore a baseball cap.