Tag Archives: scamming the elderly

Big Mouth Sami

Summary of a case involving a little guy with a big mouth arrested for exploitation of the elderly…and then solicitation to commit murder.

July 2000:

joe-pesciSami Jourdak was a 71-year-old vertically challenged person with an irritating high voice and he sure talked a lot.   The first time we met, he reminded me of some of the small, talky characters played by the actor Joe Pesci, but with white hair. He seemed harmless enough, though, and there was something sad about the guy.

Our paths crossed when he exploited a 94-year-old blind woman named Hillary. She was alert, trusting and courageous in many ways.

At the time, the two recently had met at her church and quickly developed what seemed a mutually beneficial friendship. He would take her out to lunch a few times a week and she would pay. He was tight on money and she loved to get out of her house, so it worked out quite well. It all seemed harmless enough.

But looks were deceiving and Jourdak was a dangerous man. Twelve years earlier he had been arrested and convicted for sexual assault on a child and spent two years in prison for that crime. This apparently harmless old man with the non-stop squeaky voice was a predator.
When they went out to lunch, Jourdak was slipping Hillary’s ATM card from her purse, making withdrawals, then replacing it without her knowing. It was too easy.

But after two weeks and more than $5,000 in withdrawals, Hillary’s home health aide caught Jourdak sneaking the ATM card back into the purse. When the aide approached him about it, he became very threatening and assured her that if she spoke to Hillary, she would regret it.
Instead, the aide went to the police and I became involved.

When I first approached Hillary, she was not only emotionally hurt but also angry that Jourdak had violated her trust. She agreed to wear a “wire,” a secret recording device that all cop-and-crime movies seem to include for some reason. Hillary said she would question him about the money when he came to visit her the following day.

Jourdak arrived right on time expecting to take Hillary to lunch, but instead she confronted him about his theft. My partner and I listened to the conversation from inside an unmarked police car parked in the neighbor’s driveway.

When confronted by Hillary, Jourdak admitted everything, but insisted that he took her money so that no one else could. He claimed that he was only trying to protect her. His defense was lame, we moved in and he was arrested.

I thought that this case had ended, but Jourdak had other ideas…..
He was furious at the home health aide because he suspected that she had tipped off the police. So he wanted her dead, just as he had threatened.
This time, Jourdak was more than all talk.

Jourdak’s cellmate was a “tough guy,” so to speak. He was someone with a violent background related to drugs and weapons violations. So Jourdak approached him about hiring a hit man to kill the home health aide for a few thousand dollars.

Jourdak said that, with the witness out of the way, he could both get revenge and probably beat the charges against him. His cellmate said that he would see what he could do.

Less than two weeks later, after Jourdak had bonded out of jail, he met with a stranger at a diner in Fort Lauderdale. His cellmate indeed had arranged a rendezvous with a hired killer.
The hit man was a big, sleazy-looking middle-aged man who dwarfed Jourdak’s small body. Jourdak spent a full hour with him and wouldn’t stop talking, of course. That was his nature. He said that he wanted the health aide killed and didn’t care how. He also explained that he had been taking Hillary’s ATM card and everything had been going just fine until the aide had butted in and ratted him out to the police.

In the end, Jourdak agreed to pay $3,000, but only after the killing. The hit man said that he wanted the money before the murder. Jourdak agreed and they went their separate ways, planning to meet the next day to exchange the payment.

Jourdak drove home to his apartment, but the hit man drove to the rear parking lot of the diner where the rest of us had been listening from behind tinted windows in unmarked cars. The hit man was actually an ATF agent and I, along with several other detectives and agents, had been monitoring the meeting from the start.

Sami Jourdak simply was a victim of very bad luck.  His cellmate was a tough guy all right, but also a confidential informant for an ATF agent. He had reported Jourdak’s intentions to his agent, who in turn had called me.

Those of us working the case decided that it would be prudent to arrest Jourdak quickly. I found him on that same day in his apartment complex doing his dirty laundry.

I arrested him again, this time for solicitation to commit murder. He cried like a baby when he was loaded into the back seat of a squad car and carried off to jail.

The hit man in this case had been an impostor, yes – but so was Jourdak, and he gave perfect example of how predators who appear completely harmless can be the most dangerous predators of all.

by Joe Roubicek, copyright 2010 Coral Springs

AARP – 7 Common Snowbird Scams

The following article 7 Common Snowbird Scams, Con Artists Head South to Prey on Older Seasonal Residents, is from AARP, written by Sid Kirscheimer, dated November 14, 2012.   For convenience, it is posted below.  To see the original article, click here.

AARP ARTICLE – 7 Common Snowbird Scams

Elder Scam Warning SignIt’s not just retirees who flock to warm-weather states such as Florida and Arizona as the temperature drops up north. During snowbird season — November through April — scammers also head south to prey on the half-year residents.

“Absolutely, during snowbird season there’s an increase in scams — and many are done by organized outfits … who specifically target older seasonal residents,” says Joe Roubicek, who spent 20 years investigating scams as a Fort Lauderdale police detective before writing Financial Abuse of the Elderly: A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes.

Be on the lookout for scammers who follow Snowbirds to warmer areas in the winters. For Scam Alert.  Be on the lookout for scammers who follow snowbirds to warmer areas in the winter. — Thomas Collins/Getty Images

If you’re among the thousands about to migrate to a warmer climate, beware of these common snowbird scams:

1. The malevolent mechanic. They wait outside shopping malls or supermarkets, watching for snowbirds (often recognized by out-of-state license plates) to park and go inside. If the car’s older or left unlocked, they can pop the hood and disable the vehicle by pulling wires. “When the elder returns, they offer help getting their car started — after driving them to the bank for money to pay for the repair,” says Roubicek. “Their main target: women in their 70s or 80s.”  Your best option, if you’re not a AAA member, is to call a friend or police to give you a hand.

2. Pickpockets. Organized gangs work flea markets and the aisles of stores near retirement communities for a week or so, then move to the next community, says Bob Arno, a former pickpocket-turned-comedic counselor on street crimes. Snowbirds are especially targeted because they tend to carry cash, wear looser-fitting clothing and may have slower reactions.

If you’re in a crowd or you see strangers ahead, keep your hand on your wallet or tightly clutch your handbag. Be especially careful when approached by “lost” duos in need of directions. (One distracts you — sometimes with map in hand — while the other dips into your bag.) If possible, keep wallets in a buttoned pocket or in a safety pouch worn beneath clothing.

3. ID theft. Roubicek warns of store clerks who capture credit card numbers with cellphone cameras or pen and paper and then make fraudulent purchases. It’s a good idea to use only one card — with the lowest credit limit — for snowbird season purchases and go online regularly to keep close tabs on its activity.

4. The bank examiner scam. Milling around outside banks, con artists pose as bank officials or law enforcement agents who are investigating a corrupt teller. They ask you, as a trusted customer, to go inside, withdraw some money and hand it over. Don’t worry, we just need to check serial numbers and mark the banknotes, you’re told — we’ll redeposit them right away to see if the teller steals any. Of course, they and the cash quickly disappear. Real banking examiners and police don’t need your money for their investigations.

Speak Out!  Run into a scam not mentioned here? Have additional tips other readers could use? Speak out on our Scams & Fraud message board.

5. The lottery winner who can’t collect. In a parking lot, someone approaches you claiming to hold a winning lottery ticket. Only problem, the “winner” is in the United States illegally and can’t go get the money. Just pay me a portion of the jackpot, you’re told, and you can have the ticket. Its number may be “verified” by a passerby — “I saw it announced on TV last night.” In reality, this person is an accomplice.

It’s one of many so-called pigeon drop scams, in which a stranger offers to share a fortune (found money, an inheritance, etc.) once you make your “good faith” contribution. Forget good faith; use good judgment instead.

6. The condo caper. Unannounced visits by self-described utility workers or contractors should always sound internal alarms of a possible scam. But a request to enter your home can have more credence when the front-door fraudster claims “the condo association sent me.”

The crooks often work in pairs and also pose as exterminators. One may “accidentally” spill liquid or even spray pesticide on you and divert your attention by helping with the cleanup while the other stealthily steals valuables.

“If there’s one guy, the ‘accident’ can be to lubricate your hand so he can slip a ring off your finger — or offers to clean it for you,” notes Roubicek. “Some then just pocket the jewelry and run off, knowing that many elders are timid and won’t stop them.”

So unless you initiate contact or the condo association gives prior notice, never let these folks inside your dwelling.

7. Telemarketing cons. Snowbirds can expect an uptick in phony phone calls claiming that they’ve won a sweepstakes or that a grandchild is in a jam and needs a quick wiring of cash. Why? “The energy of boiler rooms moves to snowbird communities” in the winter, says Roubicek, as scammers buy calling lists of communities that are swelled by thousands of seasonal residents. If you own a condo or second home, it’s easy to get personal info such as your name and age, information that’s dropped into the come-on to make it seem more legitimate.

Just hang up!

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Also of interest:

10 bad spending habits you should break.
The worst-rated states for retirement.
Are you worried about your credit rating?
Remember to go to the AARP home page every day for great deals and for tips on keeping healthy and sharp.