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DA recovers cash in elder abuse investigation

District Attorney Jim Martin recognized the efforts of a Salisbury Township Police detective and a Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney in uncovering a fraudulent real estate transaction and obtaining the return $115,214.67 to the 64-year-old victim.

On March 16, the victim told Salisbury Township Police Detective Diano Reavis that he was in the process of purchasing a property in Florida. The victim’s name will not be released to protect his privacy and ensure that he is not further targeted by possible scammers.

The victim told police he wired $115,214.67 to what he believed was the title agency handing the sale of the Florida property. The victim had been in email contact with the legitimate title agency throughout the real estate transaction process, but had been contacted in a scam by someone using an email address nearly identical to the title agency.

The victim said he had been given details of how to wire the $115,214.67 for the closing costs without realizing the information was coming from a scammer and not the legitimate title agency. The victim contacted his bank with details for the transfer to a Capital One account and the transfer was successfully concluded. However, before the money could be removed from the Capital One account the fraud was discovered.

On April 11, Reavis learned that the Capital One account was not connected to the title agency and had been frozen by authorities in Texas for similar fraudulent activity. Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney Joseph R. Stauffer approved a search warrant that ultimately resulted in the return of the victim’s funds from the frozen account. The name on the Capital One account is fraudulent and the investigation by law enforcement in various jurisdictions remains ongoing.

District Attorney Martin commends the prompt action of Detective Reavis and Mr. Stauffer in resolving this matter. He also wishes to remind the public that fraudulent schemes are prevalent and that many of the perpetrators target our older citizens.

The Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office Elder Abuse Task Force can be reached at 610.782.3700.