A Nevada woman could be facing more than six decades in prison after allegedly swindling a local woman out of about half a million dollars.
Denise Parker, 62, of Las Vegas, has been indicted on four counts of identity fraud against a person in a protected class, and one count each of theft from a person in a protected class, receiving stolen property and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
According to court documents, in November, the victim, an elderly local woman, looking for companionship, joined an on-line dating site. She met an individual who portrayed himself as a man.
“That person doesn’t really exist,” Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said.
The victim and the alleged man developed a relationship through the site then online then through e-mail.
“He made some representations to her, saying that he needed some money for a business opportunity,” Phillips said.
The alleged man told the victim that if he could get his businesses resolved, he could come to Ohio to be with her. He introduces the woman to a banker online. Prosecutors say the banker is also fictitious.
Using the banker, the man and the victim are able to open credit card and other accounts, which are eventually maxed out.
The man then asked the victim to send him iTunes gift cards.
“Anytime you are asked to send iTunes gift cards, you can almost always guarantee it is a scam,” Phillips said. “Scammers like these because they are difficult to track. Once you give someone that number, it is like cash, it’s really difficult to track.”
The man then asked for the victim to send electronics — computers and iPhones. The woman sent those items to a location in Georgia, but investigators believe the address is just a drop box where the items were picked up, not a home or usable address lead.
Eventually the man asked the woman to send a $200,000 wire transfer to Parker.
“We don’t believe she was acting alone. We believe there are other people involved, but Denise Parker was the only person police could find that was real,” Phillips said.
Marysville Police Detective Kate Archer worked with police in Nevada to interview Parker.
“Following that, Ms. Parker allegedly had some more contact with the victim about the alleged scheme,” Phillips said.
Parker was arrested Tuesday in Las Vegas. She is set for an extradition hearing today.
Phillips said that all totaled, the Parker allegedly scammed the woman out of more than $500,000. He said that investigation revealed that at least a portion of the money was wired to Turkey.
If convicted, Parker could face as many as 65 years in prison. Phillips said the penalties are enhanced because of the amount of money and because the victim is elderly. The law protects senior citizens, as well as disabled adults, active duty service members and the spouses of active duty service members.
Phillips said these cases are difficult because the identities are not real and many of the victims don’t believe or want to admit they are victims.
“The scammers are very, very good and we find that a lot of these people, even when they begin to think maybe there is something wrong here, don’t want to admit they have been scammed,” Phillips said.
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