St. Pete, Tampa PD investigate elderly scams - WFLA News Channel 8

St. Pete, Tampa PD investigate elderly scams

Posted: Updated:
Mary Porter, 84, says the scammers claimed to be spraying for spiders Mary Porter, 84, says the scammers claimed to be spraying for spiders
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Police in Tampa and St. Petersburg are investigating a rash of scams targeting the elderly. 

St. Petersburg has at least seven cases and Tampa at least two.  Authorities say the scams may be related.

In St. Petersburg, two men ripped off 84-year old Mary Porter on Wednesday. One of the men initially told her he wanted to trim some of her hedges in the backyard.

"And then he started in on this, oh you have brown recluse spiders, they're all over. You have them. We have to get rid of them," Porter said.  "And I said well, what will you do? He said well I spray them with pure acid. And I said what?"

She says the man proceeded to spray "acid" on the spiders.

"So he's spraying around and he purposely sprayed my hand, and then the older man started screaming, I got some on my face. We have to have milk, we have to have milk right away," said Porter.

Investigators say the men dunked her hand in milk to neutralize the "acid" and then made off with her jewelry.

St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz says the men have changed their method of operation, and that makes them more difficult to catch.

"They were initially going out trying to get people to come out of their house under the guise of we want to repair your sea wall or something like that," said Puetz. "And generally, while one had them out back, the other guy would go in through the front door and that's the way they operate. Then they went to a situation where they represented themselves as city water workers. "

Tampa Police say that's what the scam artists are doing in South Tampa. According to a news release, the latest case happened on Wednesday around 3:00 PM. Authorities say the suspect approached an elderly woman at her home, and identified himself as a water department employee.

Police say he told the 83-year-old victim that he was repairing a water main break in the area and that he needed to check the water in her kitchen. Investigators say the victim escorted him back to the kitchen where he spoke on a cell phone for part of the 20 minutes he spent in the house.

The victim noticed that the suspect was relaying her address during the phone conversations. She became suspicious and asked him to leave. Later that day, the victim and her son discovered cash and jewelry from the home missing. She believes the con man was on the phone with an accomplice who entered the home while they were in the kitchen.

The men in both the St. Petersburg and Tampa cases are described as Hispanic.  Both are in their 30's or 40's.  In the Tampa case, police believe the men were driving a white truck with a topper.  The suspects in the St. Petersburg case were driving a gray or silver minivan. 

Anyone with any information on either case is urged to call the police.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:55 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:55:41 GMT
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breachHome Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breach
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
  • Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:54 PM EDT2014-09-02 16:54:32 GMT
    File Photo: Nick CongletonFile Photo: Nick Congleton
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:45 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:45:21 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Legoland unveils new character corner

    Legoland unveils new character corner

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:27 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:27:56 GMT
    Photo: Legoland Florida ResortPhoto: Legoland Florida Resort
    On Tuesday, Legoland has announced a new way for guests to meet and mingle with their favorite Lego characters, titled Buddy's Character Corner!
    On Tuesday, Legoland has announced a new way for guests to meet and mingle with their favorite Lego characters, titled Buddy's Character Corner!
  • Dead fish creating problems on Honeymoon Island

    Dead fish creating problems on Honeymoon Island

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:24 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:24:04 GMT
    Red Tide spotted on the shore of Honeymoon Island.Red Tide spotted on the shore of Honeymoon Island.
    Scattered on the shore of Honeymoon Island in Pinellas county are hundreds of dead fish.Park rangers started noticing the fish wash on shore on Friday, just before one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year."In some spots it scattered and as you move up north on the beach it's up in the hundreds of fish," said park manager Pete Krulder.
    Scattered on the shore of Honeymoon Island in Pinellas county are hundreds of dead fish.Park rangers started noticing the fish wash on shore on Friday, just before one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year."In some spots it scattered and as you move up north on the beach it's up in the hundreds of fish," said park manager Pete Krulder.
  • Largo teacher arrested for DUI in Labor Day crash

    Largo teacher arrested for DUI in Labor Day crash

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:42 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:42:58 GMT
    A Largo middle school teacher was charged with DUI on Monday after being involved in a five-car crash.
    A Largo middle school teacher was charged with DUI on Monday after being involved in a five-car crash.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:09 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:09:07 GMT
    File photo of Bubba the Love Sponge ClemFile photo of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
  • Teen accused of killing, dismembering mother's body

    Teen accused of killing, dismembering mother's body

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:48:37 GMT
    Tyrese LandrumTyrese Landrum
    A Lee County teenager is behind bars, accused of killing his own mother and hiding her body parts around the home.
    A Lee County teenager is behind bars, accused of killing his own mother and hiding her body parts around the home.
  • Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: August 18 - 23

    Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: August 18 - 23

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:58 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:58:28 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.