Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced that a Camden man has been indicted for scamming an elderly woman out of $16,000 by falsely claiming the money was needed to bail her grandson out of jail.
A grand jury charged Yadiel Gonzalez, of Atlantic Avenue in Camden, with one count of Theft by Deception (Third Degree). The indictment was returned May 20 and signed by Prosecutor Coffina. An arraignment is scheduled for July 5 in Superior Court.
The investigation began last year when a woman contacted Palmyra Borough police to report the scam. The investigation revealed that the initial contact was made through a phone call. During the call, the victim spoke to someone whose voice resembled her grandson.
The storyline of the scam was that her grandson had caused a traffic accident in Pennsylvania that resulted in injuries to a pregnant woman, and had been arrested. The money was needed to post bail.
The victim agreed to help the person she believed was her grandson, and handed over the money during a meeting with a courier in Palmyra.
The victim was able to describe the man she paid, and provided police with the license plate number of the car he was driving. But the break in the case came when Palmyra Borough Police Department Detective Arek Arargil was able to pull fingerprints from the hand-written receipt the courier gave the victim. They were ultimately traced to the defendant.
“Schemes that prey upon the emotions of potential victims are rather common,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “If your gut tells you something doesn’t seem right about a financial transaction, you should follow that instinct, step back and take another look at the situation. You do not have to wait until you’ve been victimized to contact law enforcement. If you think someone is trying to rip you off, call your police department.”
The investigation was conducted by the Palmyra Borough Police Department. Gonzalez is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Eric G. Zimmermann.
An indictment is an accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.