4 charged in home-care service scam
A statewide scheme that tricked more than 200 senior citizens into spending thousands of dollars for home-care services they never received led to the arrests of four Philadelphia-area men, the state Attorney General's Office said Tuesday.
The scam spread across 41 Pennsylvania counties and three other states. Investigators identified at least 218 victims, including seven in Allegheny County, one in Beaver, five in Butler, two in Washington and three in Westmoreland counties. The average age of the victims was 83, Attorney General Linda Kelly said, and the four suspects pulled in more than $700,000.
"This was a disturbing and despicable scheme designed to extract as much money as possible from unwitting seniors who believed they were protecting themselves against costly future home-care expenses," Kelly said.
The Attorney General's Office would not reveal the names of victims, fearing the victims could again become targets of scammers.
Charged Monday were: Bruce Howard Cherry, 52, of Philadelphia; Ross M. Rabelow, 52, of Bucks County; Thomas J. Muldoon, 57, of Delaware County; and Robert P. Lerner, 56, of Philadelphia. All are in custody in Montgomery County, according to the Attorney General's Office.
The four sold contracts for services -- usually home health care and medical equipment -- which they never provided, a state grand jury found.
"These businesses were little more than names on pieces of paper," Kelly said.
Don Grant, supervisor of protective services for the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging, said scammers have developed methods to take advantage of the elderly using debit cards, Social Security and pension checks. He advised older people to check with the Attorney General's Office or Better Business Bureau for complaints against a company, to keep sensitive information in a secure location and to trust their instincts.
"Sometimes people are too much in a hurry to trust someone else," he said. "They want to trust them."
In one of the worst cases, Kelly said the suspects stole more than $57,000 from a woman.
Add Megan Guza to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Animal welfare groups see opportunities in dialogue about Vick signing
- Port Authority’s plan for car-free communities slow to bear fruit
- Port Authority of Allegheny County eyes $2M in detour costs
- Board members bring business attitude to nonprofit August Wilson
- W.Pa. to observe International Overdose Awareness Day
- Shaler man charged with homicide, abuse of corpse in McKeesport woman’s death
- Solarize Allegheny powers up with more communities
- Newsmaker: Matthew Opdyke
- Penn Hills fire displaces 10
- Pittsburgh region enjoys healthy dose of ‘brain gain’
- Portions of Fort Pitt Tunnel, Parkway West to close overnight this week