Dr. Stephen Harlow believes his 90-year-old mother was the victim of a scam that caused her to pay a scam artist thousands of dollars and become alienated from her family, neighbors and friends.
Cpl. Christopher Wilcox, Temple Police spokes-man, said he can confirm there is an active investigation into a theft.
“I cannot go into details of the exact incident due to it being an active investigation,” Wilcox said.
An elderly person under the Texas Penal Code is 65 years of age and older, Wilcox said. He also said there have been no other recent reports to the Temple Police Department in reference to caretakers “scamming” their employers.
“So we have no reason to believe there is any ‘movement’ in the area,” he said.
Harlow said his stepfather became critically ill, and his mother mentioned the first or second week of December she was looking for someone to help her at home. She told him someone knew someone who could take care of her husband. Later that day, a couple showed up at the house of Harlow’s mother and took on the assignment, he said.
His stepfather died Dec. 26. The couple moved into his mother’s house Jan. 1. They managed to get her to give them her power of attorney, Harlow said, convincing her that her family, neighbors and friends wanted nothing to do with her.
Harlow said he received numerous phone calls from his mother’s friends and neighbors, saying they were being kept away from her by the couple living with her.
Harlow said that the couple of times he talked to his mother, she sounded drunk or drugged. Harlow said he is the chief technical officer and laboratory director of Hill Country Toxicology in San Antonio and has samples of her food he will be testing for drugs.
One day Harlow got tired of not being able to talk to his mother, so he and his wife showed up at her house. They went in and a man, “the caretaker,” was there. Harlow told his mother he wanted the caretaker to leave, and she asked for a couple of minutes alone with the man.
Harlow said during those couple of minutes she signed over a $10,000 government check to the man, and her purse was taken with her wallet, watches, cash and other items inside.
He said an attorney just “showed up” with papers showing the man and his wife had his mother’s power of attorney. So Harlow called the Temple Police and made an official report.
Harlow said he told the attorney he would be going after anyone helping the scammers. Shortly after that, the purse showed back up at the attorney’s office with everything in it, he said.
Harlow said he thinks these two people are part of a group scamming people in the area. Information he received from the attorney showed the man’s reported address in Rosebud was a vacant lot. There was just a lot and a mailbox — nothing else.
He said the man is a convicted felon, convicted in 1993 of assault with a deadly weapon, and was using an alias.
“I think there is a gang that is putting someone in Scott & White or at area hair salons where older people go, getting information they can use to scam people,” Harlow said. “And people in the area need to know so they can protect their family and elderly individuals who might be vulnerable. If they’re considering hiring someone, they need to thoroughly verify their credentials and references.”
Man thinks scam artists controlled his mother, moved into her Temple home
February 5, 2013
Temple Daily Telegram