Thieves making old scam new again

July 21, 2009 8:32:38 PM PDT
The con-artists are getting better and better at the art of deception with fake I-D's and fake equipment to make people think they're from the water department. And it seems, once again, they like to prey on the elderly."They oughta be shot, against the wall and shoot 'em," said Carmen Venuto Sr.

The 91-year-old was fuming that he and his 89-year-old wife, Marge, were taken to the cleaners by two men posing as workers for the Philadelphia Water Department. He says they weren't wearing actual uniforms.

"He had work clothes."

"And he produced what appeared to be a water dept ID," Dann Cuellar asked.

"Yeah with his picture on it. So they're getting better at this, they're making fake id's to look really good."

Not only that but they come in with equipment to make it look like they're testing the water.

"He said, 'When it turns red, it's no good.' So he must have put something in the water to make it look foggy."

What the elderly couple didn't know at the time was that while this was going on the other crook was upstairs robbing them blind, taking cash and jewelry.

"He says, 'I'll be back, I have a device that clears up your water.' And just like that, they ran out."

Police say another elderly resident fell victim to the fake water department crooks in the 2300 block of Woodstock.

Water department officials warn to never let anyone in your house without verifying first that they were sent by the Philadelphia Water Department.

"Call 215-685-6300, give the people who answer the phone your address and say, 'Someone's here from the water dept, why are they here?' If we have no record of someone coming to your home, they don't belong there," said John DiGiulio, a spokesperson for the water department.

The next step should be to call 911 immediately.

Sadly, con-artists of late seem to be on the prowl, this is the third time Carmen Venuto and his wife have been targeted by crooks posing either as water department workers, good Samaritans and even a police detective with a fake badge.

"They're actually making a living out of robbing older people, like my father and my mother," said Carmen Venuto Jr.

You can get the latest crime statistics from the Philadelphia Police by CLICKING HERE for the force's crime data mapping site.

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