NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Three people are accused of targeting elderly victims in a tire scam. Police say the suspects flagged the victims down, then followed them home and stole their cash and jewelry.
According to court documents, Bessie Costello, Dino Yonko and Michael John approached the elderly victims at a gas station and grocery store this past summer, telling them there was something wrong with a tire on their car and it would be dangerous to drive it. The NOPD says the suspects would then offer to repair the tire, in one case for $420, in another for $500.
The suspects told one victim, an 88-year-old woman, they would follow her home to make sure she got there safely. Once there, the victim told police the suspects entered her home without her permission. She later discovered more than $3,000 in jewelry missing from her bedroom dresser.
Police say the suspects also followed the other victim to his Algiers home on Delaronde Street so he could pay them for the tire repair. The 89-year-old victim told the NOPD that he got $500 in cash from his safe to pay the suspects. But once he retrieved the money, he did not secure the safe. He then left the suspects alone in his house while he used the bathroom. When he returned, he discovered $8,000 in cash missing from his safe.
The Better Buisness Bureau offers this advice if someone is trying to flag you down while you’re driving.
“If someone is trying to stop you, what you want to do, and of course almost everybody has cell phones, you want to call 911 and let them know what’s happening. Ask them where the closest police station is. If there is not one too close, you want to go to a very busy area, well-lit,” said Cynthia Albert with the BBB. “Make sure no one is following you of course, and you don’t want to go home right away - that would probably be the worst thing you could do. Don’t pull over just for anybody that could be very,very detrimental.”
All three suspects are in jail. Bessie Costello was arrested Wednesday (April 24) and had her first court appearance Thursday (April 25). She faces a number of charges, including exploitation of the infirmed.