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Elderly Albany Man Targeted in 'Accident' Scam – Police Issue Warning

An elderly Albany man at El Cerrito Plaza was one of three elderly people approached in El Cerrito parking lots Friday and falsely accused of striking a woman with their cars, police said in a community warning about the scam.

Photo credit: Betty Buginas
Photo credit: Betty Buginas
An elderly Albany man was approached by a woman in the parking lot of El Cerrito Plaza at 11 a.m. on Friday, saying the man had struck her with his car, according to police.

It was a scam attempt, one of three that accused elderly people of hitting a female victim in El Cerrito parking lots Friday, according to El Cerrito police.

The Albany man was approached by "a white adult female, approximately 50 to 60 years old," police said in a community alert

"A witness to the incident came to the man's defense and told him that she saw the woman hit the back of his car with her hand," according to police. "The man drove home to Albany and realized that the woman and her accomplice were following him.

"The pair of fraudsters confronted him at his house and demanded $1,200 for medical bills. The man sought help from his neighbor and the scam artists fled in their car." 

Witnesses described the woman as white with platinum-dyed hair, 5-feet 5-inches tall and wearing an oatmeal-colored jacket, police said. Her accomplice was described as a white female of Spanish descent in her late 30s, 5-feet 5-inches tall with black hair and dark clothing, police said. 

Police provided the following summaries of the other two cases:

At 1245 hours, in the parking lot of Safeway, two women once again attempted to defraud an elderly man. This time, the primary suspect once again claimed that the man struck her with his car. The elderly man decided not to talk with the women and drove to Chevron. The women followed the man in a dark colored SUV, similar to a Jeep. The man called the police from Chevron and the women drove off. 

This time, witnesses described the primary suspect as a white female, 75 to 80 years old, with white hair. Witnesses estimated her height as 5'3", her weight as 110 pounds, and remembered her wearing a black skirt and multi-colored blouse. Witnesses described the second woman as white, 35 to 40 years old, 5'2" to 5'4" tall, with her hair pulled back and wearing pants and a sweater. 

Finally, at 1330 hours, in the Safeway parking lot once again, the two women approached yet another elderly man and tried to defraud him. The story was the same but this time the man went to the ATM in the store to pay the woman. A store staff member stopped the man and told him to call the police. Not surprisingly, the women fled. 

Officers believe the women were associated with a blue 2003 Honda CR-V. 

Police urged citizens "to be on the lookout for scams, particularly around the holiday season. Also, keep an eye out for elderly shoppers. These two suspects appear to be targeting the elders of our community. Please call the police if you spot these women."

Call 911 in an emergency. Otherwise, El Cerrito Police can be reached at 510-237-3233.
Lois Peterson December 16, 2013 at 10:59 AM
This happened to an elderly friend of mine in San Mateo at Safeway. I wonder if the woman involved (& the car with front damage) could be the same? My friend's insurance company "paid" for the supposed damage and my friend's insurance is going up!
Gary Matalucci December 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Lori, could you have your friend contact the Albany Police and their auto insurance company for possible fraud. Lets nip this one in the bud. Thank you.
Lois Peterson December 16, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Sounds like a great idea - thanks Gary. Some friends were planning to visit the auto insurance agent to inquire about this. Her car was undamaged and the appraiser told her that she couldn't have caused the supposed damage. We wondered why her insurance company paid for "damage", etc.
Bart Grossman December 16, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Let's remember to be careful out there. The weeks before Christmas are high risk for burglary, theft and scams. Criminals do their shopping now too, sometimes in other people's houses and pockets. Recommend
Muriel Strand December 16, 2013 at 05:50 PM
a similar scam was tried on a friend of mine about 12 years ago in front of rainbow grocery in SF. returning to his parked car out in front after shopping, he was confronted by a black woman parked next to him who insisted he had bumped her car while parking and caused injury to a passenger. he insisted on calling the police and waiting until they arrived to take a report. he waited for a while until she left, then went home. he felt that leaving before she did was a bad idea.
Jo-Anna Pippen December 16, 2013 at 11:16 PM
This happened to my son years ago. He supposedly bumped the fender of a car while parking, and the passenger claimed to be injured. Our insurance company supposedly investigated, found no damage to his car but still paid out a low settlement. Then our rates were raised. By a lot.
lubov mazur December 17, 2013 at 02:42 AM
We don't need professional claimants to mess up our lives. I don't understand how Edward Breuer: could run into my car, have his insurance company pay my claim as he continues to deny responsibility and refuse to pay the deductible I had to pay out to get my car fixed. Did anyone see this accident in August in the Albany post office parking lot?

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