SARASOTA, FL (SARASOTA COUNTY) - According to a Sarasota County Sheriff's Office arrest report on wtsp.com, a South Florida man was arrested and is accused of stealing $63,000 from an 88-year-old Sarasota man by pretending to be an official with the Publishers Clearing House.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office reported that the suspect, a 25-year-old man, allegedly persuaded the elderly man to pay "taxes" on sweepstakes the victim was told that he had won. The 88-year-old man deposited thousands of dollars into two separate bank accounts. And, law enforcement authorities maintain that the suspect used the man's identity to withdraw the man's money. The victim's family became suspicious, and they reported their concerns to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office in October 2020.
Law enforcement authorities with the Plantation Police Department and the Broward County Sheriff's Office worked together to serve a search warrant and conduct a search of the suspect's home in Plantation, Florida. As the detectives searched the home, they discovered over $17,000, multiple electronics, and a stolen gun.
The detectives also identified 17 more elderly victims and the officers believe there could be many more victims of the scam, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office's news release. The detectives estimate the suspect has stolen around $300,000 from the 17 victims who all live in different areas throughout the country.
The suspect was arrested and is charged with bank fraud, criminal use of personal identification, and grand theft of a firearm. The suspect has bonded out, and additional charges may be pending.
The detectives in the case have worked hard to protect our state's most vulnerable population, according to Sarasota Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman's written statement. It is important for us all to watch out for our elderly and each other and to remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
According to the Publishers Clearing House's website, no taxes, fees, or payments, are required to receive or claim legitimate prizes that are won through its giveaways.