Lehigh Valley

Six accused of stealing thousands from elderly in phone scam

Police say they were very convincing.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Six people have been arrested in an elderly phone scam.

It starts with a phone call. It ends with grandparents out thousands of dollars.

"The story is usually something very serious," begins Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio.

"Their hearts are in the right place. They want to help their kids, grandkids," says Detective Sean Molony, also with the Bethlehem Police Department.

Bethlehem police say the scammers were here in Pennsylvania.

Their two victims were in different states; one in Arkansas, one in Texas.

Authorities say both grandparents were called over the last couple of months and told the same thing: their grandson had been charged with DUI in a crash and he needed bail money.

"They have a very little information on the grandkid, but they have just enough, and they're able to elicit more information from the victims to help them build their story to make it more believable," Detective Molony says.

Both times, the scammers convinced the grandparents to send $5,000 - $6,000 in cash to addresses in Pennsylvania.

69 News visited some of the addresses on their list and some seemed abandoned whereas others were for rent.

"They look for empty addresses or abandoned homes. All they need is a number on the house, a street and they'll wait for the postal delivery or the Fedex delivery," Chief DiLuzio explains.

But police say the scammers weren't done.

They called their victims back, saying their grandson had hit a pregnant woman in his crash, and her baby had died. They said they needed more money, for the serious charges.

"They're very convincing," Detective Molony explains, adding, "They're almost like excellent salesmen. They do a good job of selling the story to the victims."

By the third phone call from the scammers, both grandparents ended up calling police.

When Bethlehem PD got involved (since the money was being sent to Bethlehem) the officers say they were able to set up a sting operation, and they say when the scammers came to pick up the cash, police were there, eventually rounding up a gang of six scammers and slapping them with federal charges.

"Personally I think the people are despicable. They prey on the elderly and they deserve to be put in a cage or a prison," says Chief DiLuzio.

Sadly, Bethlehem police say they aren't done with this investigation. The six suspects, and their two victims, are only part of an ongoing investigation.

They have been indentified as Yahaira D. Diaz, Vincent A. Sorrentino, Reynaldo J. Garcia-Martinez, Dariel Abreu-Jose, Guillermo Fanjul, and Christian P. Santana.

Police looking into more of these cases, and say their tally so far is $100,000 being stolen from unsuspecting grandparents.

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