Jul 8, 2010

Man Preyed on Elderly at Alzheimer's Support Groups, Authorities Say

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Does your elderly parent(s) live alone? Does your mother, father, or spouse attend an Alzheimer's support group on their own?

More and more, I am reading about criminals preying on the elderly. Most people think it couldn't happen to them. Are you sure?

By their nature, scam "artists" are smart and know how to play on the emotions and vulnerability of the greedy and elderly.

Do you have the right protections in place to insure that you or a loved one won't get scammed?

The three stories below are but a few examples of the elderly being preyed on by scam artists.

Man preyed on elderly at Alzheimer's support groups, authorities say

A man accused of trolling Alzheimer's and dementia support groups for elderly victims was arrested at an Orlando night club on charges that he cheated one of his targets out of more than $300,000.

Terry Scott Hyder, 49, was taken into custody Tuesday at the Vista de Sol, a club inside the Marriott Grande Vista Hotel in Orlando, Jenifer Lowe, spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said today.

Hyder is charged with organized fraud and grand theft.

He was the focus of fraud investigations by the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Marion County deputy sheriffs, who contend that Hyde also cheated victims in Orange County and in North Carolina.

Lowe said Hyder, who used the alias Ryan Hyder, often brought snacks to Alzheimer's support groups during which he tried to make friends with elderly women who had a spouse in the hospital or a care facility.

She said Hyder tried to persuade them they could better protect their savings by buying his tax certificates.

"They were all worthless, totally bogus," Lowe said.

Detectives linked Hyder to Sterling & Stratford LLC and Bella Street Enterprises LLC, which they described as "fraudulent businesses" operating from a post-office box in Orlando. Lowe said victims in Florida and North Carolina may have lost more than $500,000 combined.

Hyder was held without bond in the Orange County Jail until today, when he was picked up for transport back to the Marion County Jail.

Sentinel staff writer Anika Myers Palm contributed to this report. Stephen Hudak can be reached at shudak@orlandosentinel.com or 352-742-5930.


Long-Running Calif. Ponzi Scheme Preyed On Elderly

During the week, Roberto Heckscher was a socially awkward accountant who drove a Saturn and kept an office above a flower shop in a quiet neighborhood. On the weekends, he transformed into a high-rolling casino "whale" who enjoyed VIP treatment worthy of a sheik.

He managed to keep this double life secret from most -- especially the hundreds of mostly elderly and working class who invested their life savings with him -- until the night of June 8, 2009. That's when he swallowed 90 sleeping pills and lay down to die.

One of the longest-running Ponzi schemes in U.S. history had finally collapsed.

Read more.

Police release images of con artists preying on elderly

Officials today released surveillance photographs of two people who have been duping elderly residents in Evanston and Chicago into handing over thousands of dollars to them using several scams.

Authorities are seeking the group of con artists believed to be linked to similar but separate incidents in which one elderly man was swindled out of $10,000 and another out of $6,000.

As part of the schemes, the con artists convince people to give up money as a way to secure a larger amount, Evanston police said. The scams, dubbed the "Pigeon Drop" or "South African Switch," can also induce a victim into giving up money in exchange for valuable objects.

Read more.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,610 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room