Scammers Take Advantage of Woman, Dying Husband - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Scammers Take Advantage of Woman, Dying Husband

Updated:

A man is behind bars after swindling nearly a million dollars out of vulnerable investors.

"I felt guilty. I felt ashamed, I felt angry. I felt embarrassed," said Barbara, one of the victims of this fraud.

Barbara lost more than $90,000 in the investment scheme.

"We received a mass mailing postcard in the mail from a gentleman who wanted to know if we were happy with our retirement plan," said Barbara.

The flyer read: "Helping you avoid IRA distribution mistakes." The slogan: "We haven't lost a dime in the recession. Want to know how?"

Barbara's husband, who was in failing health, decided to meet with a man named Casey Charles.

"This was a time when stocks were down and most people were unhappy with what they had, so he just wanted to see what someone else might suggest," said Barbara.

Barbara and her husband decided to invest with Charles. A short time later, Barbara's husband passed away.

"I am responsible for my own problems, but I really was not capable of making good decisions at that point."

Charles claimed to be investing Barbara's money and sent fictitious promissory notes to her as proof.

"He never made any investments on behalf of the investors," said Fred Schissler, U.S. Postal Inspector. "He just used their money for his own personal expenses."

Postal inspectors say there were more than 22 victims, including Barbara.

Total loss: almost $900,000.

"To think of someone coming into someone's home while there husband is in a wheelchair dying and knowing you're going to take money from them, it's despicable," said Schissler.

"They don't seem to care or think about what they are doing to other people," said Barbara. "It is almost as bad as holding someone up with a gun. They got their money however they got it."

Casey Charles pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in federal prison and has been ordered to pay restitution.

Postal inspectors urge you to do your research before investing with someone. 

An easy place to start: The Better Business Bureau. It tracks consumer complaints.

Also, check with the Securities and Exchange Commission to make sure they're licensed.

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