South Philadelphia veteran scammed out of classic cars, home

88-year-old Ray White was the victim of the scam. Inset: Melvin McIlwaine was arrested and charged with theft, terroristic threats and other related crimes.

March 19, 2013 4:43:09 AM PDT
All 88-year-old Ray White has left are the clothes he's wearing.

"Suddenly I have no place to live and no money. Just nothing. It just all disappeared," White said.

Police say the scam began last year when Melvin McIlwaine approached White outside his South Philadelphia home and told him how much he liked his 1964 Bentley.

McIlwaine began coming to the home more often. White thought he had a new friend.

But soon McIlwaine wanted the titles to not only the Bentley, but also White's 1969 Cadillac.

"He said 'let me see these and see if I can get a good price for these,' by this time I'm completely controlled by this man," White said.

Investigators say McIlwaine sold the two cars for just $13,000. The Bentley is estimated to be worth at least five times that amount.

The World War II veteran didn't see a dime of it. And soon the threats began.

"He began mentioning about people who go against him or don't do what he says, he puts them in the river," White said.

Then last month, White thought he was signing paperwork to move into the Dorchester in Rittenhouse. Instead, investigators say McIlwaine had arranged to sell White's home for just $65,000.

When he tried to return home, a truck was backed up to it and his belonging were gone.

"All my clothes, I don't even have my clothes. He took everything. Unbelievable. Jewelry, watches," White said.

Broke, homeless and deeply embarrassed, White says he had a nervous breakdown and committed himself to the VA Medical Center in University City where he stayed for a few days.

McIlwaine was arrested on Friday and charged with theft, terroristic threats and other related crimes.

White, who is in a rehabilitation facility for a broken hip, has no family and he doesn't know where he goes from here.

"I don't want to be imposing myself on anyone. It's not right to do that and I'm just left with nothing," White said.