OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- Surveillance photos were made public Tuesday in an effort to identify and apprehend three men suspected of using various scams and scare tactics to coerce elderly victims to give them money.
In an Aug. 24 case, two of the suspects convinced a 73-year-old woman shopping at a Wal-Mart store in Oceanside to give them a ride. Once in the victim's car, they claimed to be in possession of a winning lottery ticket and promised her $40,000 if she helped them collect the prize, according to Oceanside police and Crime Stoppers.
However, the woman grew suspicious. The suspects apparently noticed because one of them ordered her not to use her phone then took it when it began to ring.
The suspects then ordered the victim to withdraw $1,800 from her bank account and give it to them, which she did under duress, authorities said.
“Once they started driving to the bank they started barking at her, telling her where do go,” the victim’s daughter told 10News Tuesday. “She did really feel fearful for her life.”
She and her mother did not want to be identified.
“This is her Social Security. Her Social Security that has been saved up for what, two, three months.”
The suspects were with her for about two hours before she dropped them off in downtown Oceanside.
“They just kept telling her, 'remember you have a family, remember you have a family,'” the victim’s daughter said. “In other words, if you mess up we are coming after your family. My mom, she listened. She did whatever she had to do.”
A third suspect in a dark colored minivan, possibly a Toyota Sienna, had been following them throughout the ordeal.
The same men are suspected of carrying out similar crimes across San Diego County, including one in which a San Diego woman was robbed of her life savings. Investigators also believe there may be victims who have yet to come forward.
Anyone with information on the cases was asked to call Oceanside police at 760-435-4572. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477, or by contacting the agency via email at sdcrimestoppers.org.