Bogus gardaí target the homes of elderly people in latest money scam

The latest incident occurred at the home of an elderly lady outside Oldcastle early on Thursday afternoon while a house in Trim was hit on Wednesday.
Bogus gardaí target the homes of elderly people in latest money scam

Louise Walsh

Bogus callers posing as gardai have been targeting elderly people's homes across Leinster in a money scam in recent months

The plain clothes bogus callers appear to have an authentic garda badge and are using it as a pretence to gain entry to the home in search of money.

In the scam, at least two men call to the door pretending to find a large sum of money outside and ask the home occupants to check their bags or wallets in case it belongs to them.

Once inside the house, one of the men distracts the elderly homeowner with small talk while the other rifles the house in search of money, before they both disappear in a matter of minutes.

Victims

Elderly people between 70 and 90 years of age have been the victims of the scam at up to seven homes across Meath since the end of October. The areas hit include Oldcastle, Trim, Dunsany, Rathmolyon and Moynalty

Gardai believe the incidents are linked to other cases in Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Westmeath.

The latest incident occurred at the home of an elderly lady outside Oldcastle early on Thursday afternoon, while a house in Trim was hit on Wednesday.

The callers were forced to flee from a house in Rathmoylon, however, at lunchtime on Tuesday when Meals on Wheels arrived while they were there.

In some instances nothing has been stolen while in others varying sums of money have been secured by the thieves.

Elusive

Meath Crime Prevention Officer, Sgt Dean Kerins is now appealing for public information to try and catch this gang, who have so far proved elusive to gardaí.

"These men are using back roads and staying away from the main towns and villages," he said.

"They are targeting the homes of elderly people and are parking their car up the road from the houses and not in the driveways.

"One of two men are walking up to the house with what appears to be a real garda badge

"They tell the owner they were just calling to check on them and show them either a €50 or €100 note which they claim to have found outside and ask if the owner has dropped it.

"They talk themselves into the house and while the owner is checking their bag or wallet, one stays with them while the other quickly checks the other rooms for money. No violence or any threats of violence has been used.

"We haven't got any real description of the men, other than that they are tall and well-built with country accents and are driving a grey car. However, we have no doubt they are the same men carrying out similar incidents in other counties.

"Unfortunately not one of the houses hit had CCTV cameras.

"The houses targeted are on back roads and while not totally isolated, it would be hard to hear the victims if they started shouting.

"We just want to appeal to people not to open the door in any case unless they are fully sure of the identity of the caller.

"Just because they appear to have a badge, doesn't mean they are gardai. Gardaí will not park their car down the road, they will drive into your driveway or outside. Call the garda station if in any doubt.

"And please don't keep large amounts of cash on the premises. There is no need for this these days.

"Maybe family members of elderly people could invest in a CCTV camera for their house or a panic alarm pendant which can be obtained for free.

"There are a lot of community alert groups in rural areas now and if anyone sees anything suspicious or a strange car parked alongside the road, please alert your nearest garda station or contact us through the Facebook Meath Crime Prevention Page. Or contact the Garda confidential line on 1800 666 111"

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