MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - A young man from Pike Road is behind bars this weekend, facing charges for exploiting an elderly woman in Virginia with diminished mental capabilities.
Investigators were able to trace the origin of the scam back to the same jail he's sitting in now.
“These con-artist's are trying to get creative,” said Tommy Hunt, Investigator with the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.
We've all heard of the grandparent scam, a con artist posing as a grandchild or a friend of a grandchild will call and say they are in a foreign country, in trouble, and need money right away. This case uncovered was a new twist on grandparent scam.
“They took advantage of her being an easy target and was able to profit off of it,” said Montgomery County District Attorney, Daryl Bailey.
This scam starts and subsequently ends at the Montgomery County Jail. Investigators say the victim's son was incarcerated at the detention facility, and after striking up a conversation with fellow cellmate, Trederris Cowan, Cowan got out of jail and allegedly targeted his former cellmate's 74 year old mother who suffers from the early stages of dementia.
“They know the questions to ask and they really spend a lot of time listening more than talking and when they think they've got a target they'll start asking questions,” said Hunt.
According to authorities, Cowan conned the woman, name dropping an attorney's office and lying about meeting with a judge and the District Attorney.
“Telling her that he has been talking with her son and that he knows of an attorney, gave an attorney's name and can help get her son of jail if she will meet him and give him approximately $8000 dollars,” explained Bailey.
The elderly woman drove all the way from Virginia, handing over cash to the 24-year-old, now charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person.
“If they're asking to meet you in a bank parking lot and asking for cash that's a lot of red flags right there,” said Bailey.
When Cowan demanded $5,000 dollars more a few days later she got suspicious, but Bailey says those red flags should have gone up sooner. “Never give out your personal information, never make contact with someone you don't know and certainly never give cash to someone who is promising to do something for you without checking them out,” he said.
After handing over thousands to an alleged thief, the victim still had to bail her son out of jail, a costly reminder to ask questions before doing business with anyone.
Cowan is being held on a $30,000 dollar bond.