A New York man has been indicted on charges he duped his 85-year-old friend into funding his lavish lifestyle for nearly a decade. Prosecutors say Philip Leopold, 76, knew his victim for 40 years before he began laying the foundation for his scheme, according to the New York District Attorney’s Office.
In 2002, he started by offering to help her write checks for her household expenses. Then he kindly convinced her to open a trust fund under her Citibank and Emigrant Savings Bank accounts.
In just under a year, the accounts held more than $2 million, according to prosecutors, and Leopold held checkbooks for each.
Over the next decade, he basically wrote himself a $1.6 million blank check to cover everything from student loans and living expenses to a compulsive online shopping habit. When funds ran low, he allegedly forged transfers from the trust to replenish his own TD Bank account.
Here’s what he managed to rack up:
-$882,000 in credit card purchases
-30 life and health insurance policies worth $300,000
-$500,000 in charges at ShopNBC.com, The Home Shopping Network and QVC, including thousands of watches, MP3 players, digital cameras, coin collections, knife sets, flameless candles and “at least one ‘multi-colour fog maker.’
-$63,000 to rent out multiple storage units in Manhattan
-Miscellaneous food, car repairs, rent and student loans
Among the slew of charges filed against Leopold are several counts of larceny, falsifying business records and forgery.
Sadly, seniors lost more than $2.9 billion to scammers in 2011, according to a MetLife report, a figure that’s up 12 per cent since 2008 and would most likely be higher if all fraud were reported. In Maine alone, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau projects more than 80 per cent of senior scams go undocumented
To report fraud, New York residents can call the New York DA’s Office’s Elder Abuse hotline at 212-335-9007.
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