FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Five Broward residents are accused of ripping off an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Broward County court records show one of the people arrested — William Tinnell — was arrested on similar charges just a few months ago.
Broward Sheriff’s Detective Danny Belyeu busted Tinnell late last year accusing him of working with a larger group to steal $20-thousand dollars from at least 3 seniors. Belyeu says Tinnell and the group promised to do work at elderly people’s homes but charged outrageous sums, if they did any work at all.
“They knock on doors as solicitors and they see who comes to the door,” Belyeu told CBS 4′s Carey Codd. “This one is heinous to me because you’re taking advantage of the elderly people.”
Over the past several days, investigators say Tinnell and a new group preyed on an elderly Dania Beach woman with Alzheimer’s — lying to her about fixing her air conditioning and doing other odd jobs at her home. BSO says Tinnell’s group stole at least $3-thousand dollars from her.
CBS 4 News spoke to a woman named Pamela who says she knows what the family of this latest victim is going through. She says her elderly uncle was scammed by Tinnell in the 2012 case.
“They’re the low of the lowest,” Pamela said. “They’re really victimizing these people in a horrible way.”
Pamela showed us the invoices she says Tinnell gave her elderly uncle. One bill charged the man $1,225 for some tree clearing and yard work.
“It’s appalling,” Pamela said. “They’re taking advantage of a vulnerable individual just like you would a child.”
Since many seniors live alone, advocates for the elderly say it’s important for family members to step in and make sure their loved one isn’t being victimized.
“If you’re seeing signs and symptoms of memory loss and you’re seeing someone having difficulty managing their finances, it’s important that you speak with an elder law attorney or consult with the Alzheimer’s Association so that we can guide people,” said Jamie Brodarick, of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Detective Belyeu says oftentimes seniors are afraid to speak up about being victimized because they’re embarrassed or fearful their family members will take away their freedoms.
“I think they’re fearful that if their families realized that they’ve been scammed that they may want to come in and take over more and more,” Belyeu said. “I think there’s a sense of wanting to maintain that independence and not be a victim and not let everybody know they’ve been a victim.”
Jail records show Tinnell is being held without bond at the Broward County jail awaiting trial on the case from 2012. Broward Sheriff’s investigators say if you or a loved one has any information on Tinnell they want to hear from you.