By Bob Jones
Beacon Journal news partner WEWS TV-5
STOW: Marian Christopher admits her guard was down when she was approached by two fast-talking con artists in the parking lot of a Stow Giant Eagle.
Christopher, 88, lost her husband, Russell, on Feb. 1 after a difficult struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’m alone now. My husband has passed and I’m down on one income,” Christopher said.
On the morning of Feb. 22, the senior picked up some groceries and medications and returned to her car.
She was approached by a very excited woman who told Christopher to roll down her window. A second woman appeared and the two used a tag-team approach to con the widow out of $10,000.
Christopher was told that a pouch containing $100,000 was found near her car. Then, came the tempting proposition to split the money.
“If you keep this a secret, we can each make $30,000,” one of the strangers said.
The crooks convinced Christopher that the fortune was probably drug or mafia money and the bills were found in sequential order.
They told her to take out $10,000 from her bank account so that it could be mixed with the money in the pouch.
They argued that would make the stash less suspicious when it was deposited into banks.
Against the advice of a suspicious teller, Christopher withdrew the money and handed it over to one of the women in a Burger King parking lot.
Christopher was then told to meet the second woman in the bathroom of the fast food restaurant, but when she entered, it was empty.
At that point, the reality of the scam hit the senior citizen.
“When I saw her speed away, I said, ‘I’ve been scammed.’ ”
Stow police reviewed surveillance video from the Giant Eagle, but could not detect the women. Detectives are checking surveillance systems at other nearby businesses.
“These people are pretty despicable, picking on these elderly people like that. Anybody should know, especially at that age, you don’t get anything for nothing,” Stow police Chief Louis Dirker said.
Christopher hopes the crooks are captured before anyone else is ripped off.
“I’m very sad that there are people like that, that prey on the elderly,” she said.
One of the women is described as an overweight, white female.
She appeared to be in her 50s, has wavy hair and wore an army-style jacket and tall boots.
The description of the second woman was more limited: a thin, black female in her 50s.
Christopher said the women left in a blue car.
Police believe the same women also ripped off a woman who was approached in an Acme parking in Tallmadge in December. She was asked questions about a case containing money.
In that situation, the 80-year-old victim attempted to take $12,000 from her bank account, but was denied.
She later returned to the bank, withdrew $800 and gave it to the strangers, who match the description of the Stow case.
Anyone with information on the two women is asked to call Summit County Crime Stoppers at 330-433-Cops (330-433-2677). Tipsters may be eligible for a reward up to $2,000 and may remain anonymous.