MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) - Nearly $400 for doing dishes. Police say that’s what an elderly woman was duped into paying a man who offered to help with her household chores. That’s just one example of what she's gone through.
Police suspect this 88-year-old woman, diagnosed with senile dementia, had been victimized by Jeremy McClellan, 38, for about a year. But it wasn’t until the elderly woman’s car was missing that her family became suspicious.
Maryland Heights Detective Kendra House says, “It was apparent, after just a few minutes talking with her, that she struggled with her memory and this dementia.”
Police say this vulnerable woman met McClellan while he was doing some work in her Maryland Heights neighborhood. Soon, the victim was paying him exorbitant sums for simple household chores, adding up to thousands of dollars.
House says the victim was coerced: “It appears that what would happen is he would throw out a number, but make it sound like what he had done was worth more. And then he would ask her for more money.”
Police tracked down the suspect from the victim's financial records. They also found that he moved her car, which has now been returned. McClellan is now charged with Financial Exploitation of the Elderly, a Class B Felony.
The victim’s family did not want to release her identity or theirs, but are grateful the scamming has stopped. House explains, “It was really sad. But I think she feels like something has happened, but it might be difficult for her to really understand the scope of it.”
Alzheimer’s Association Family Services Director Cheryl Wingbermuehle says exploiting the elderly is all too common, and those with dementia and Alzheimer’s are especially at risk.
She explains, “Certainly a person with dementia is going to be more vulnerable because they might forget tips that they’ve been given, they might be embarrassed to tell their family or friends that something’s happening.”
To make sure your elderly loved one isn't victimized, monitor all bank accounts, and make sure unusual sums aren’t withdrawn. Additionally, watch out for new relationships with unfamiliar or suspicious people, and add your loved one to the National “Do Not Call” Registry, so they'll know when fake telemarketers are calling.