Denver Direct: Crime Alert

Friday, January 21, 2011

Crime Alert

Received by email from a citizen
CRIME Alert!
Confidence Scheme Targets Elderly in NE District
In the past month, at least two of our NE senior neighbors have been victimized and robbed by a very aggressive group of thugs.  So far, the target areas are where there is a high population of elderly black residents, from Five Points and North Capital Hill to Montebello and East Denver.
The criminals work in a team which comprised of both men and women. The size of the “Ring” is estimated to be between 6 – 12 members.  They use a low class Southern Creole type dialect. They claim to come from Mississippi. This is likely false, since some of the words used also sound like Gullah terms.
One victim reported that the grammar became better with a less pronounced accent after they talked their way into the car of the victim.
In both NE Denver cases, one person approached the elderly victim seeking directions to a nearby address.  They flash money and aggressively request a ride until the victim agrees to drive the person to a location.  Once in the car the Con Artist directs the driver to a location where accomplices await.  This is, essentially, a kidnapping at this point. It is probable that the accomplices follow the victim car as it drives away from the original location.
The accomplice then gets into the victim’s car and “requests” that they travel to the victim’s bank to withdraw from personal accounts. In both cases, our neighbors refused and ended up losing the money and credit cards that were on their purses.
Please spread the word about this crime!
If you encounter a person with the thick Gullah or Creole style accent, leave your parking spot, drive a block or so away and immediately call 911.  Describe the person and the exact location to police dispatch.
Inform store managers and security officers at all of our shopping areas in NE Denver about this activity – One of these ‘kidnappings’ began in the handicap parking space at the front door of King Soopers in Stapleton and ended at the Home Depot further north on Quebec.
Another favorite location of all panhandlers and con artists are gas stations, where they can approach as victims / targets get in and out of the car.
If you have been victimized, but not yet made a police report, please call the Fraud Unit to make a formal report.  Keep these numbers handy:
  • Victim Fraud Unit: 720-913-6752
  • DA’s Office: 720-913-9179
Some elderly are fearful of reporting that they have been duped because of family dynamics.  They fear that their adult children will place them in assisted living or nursing care in reaction to the fraud. 
The community needs to know that these criminals are professional con artists.  Even young people are victimized by criminals daily – these days, its’ mostly construction / home improvement fraud, but the point is: ANYONE can be a target. 
Please speak openly to family members about elder fraud.  Assure your parents that you will not take away their freedom if they become a victim.  Make a plan and keep emergency numbers handy at all times, even posting the emergency numbers on the dash of the car or programming your cell phone with the phone numbers.
Con Artists are talented at changing quickly too.  Once they know that we are on the lookout for Creole or Gullah accents they could move on or continue to stay in the area but change their approach. Therefore, no matter who approaches, unless you know them, do not engage in conversation, move your car out of sight, and call 911 immediately to report the incident.
We need to get this criminal ring pushed out of Colorado or caught and arrested quickly.  We want all community members to be on high alert so no one gets hurt. These things typically escalate to violence.  The sooner these criminals know that we are on to them, the sooner we take away their power!