San Diego Police warn of Water Department scam targeting the elderly

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego Police and the City Public Utilities Department are warning of a scam which targets the elderly. Surveillance pictures of the two suspects show two men. The are similarly dressed, one with a neatly trimmed beard, the other clean-shaven.  Even though the grainy photos may not indicate it, the two victims say they were dark-skinned.

Here’s the scam.  Both of this month’s incidents–San Diego Police believe there are likely more– were in the La Jolla area. August 9th. Knock on the door.  The men say they’re from the Water Department and have to check on something in the home. The elderly resident is distracted.  They make off with a significant amount of cash and jewelry.  August 1st.  The Bird Rock area of La Jolla.  This time it’s the man matching the description of the suspect with the beard.  Again. Elderly resident.  Suspect steals jewelry.

At Police Headquarters, Lt. Paul Behrendt, the head of the Economic Crimes Unit, was joined by Shauna Lorance, the City’s Public Utilities Director. Police had put out the word on the scams earlier this week. The Lieutenant told us, “Thanks to the information you had, we have received some promising leads, and we’ve heard from previous victims.  We may be able to link these cases together.”

During the press conference we learned of another scam involving the elderly.  Through an email or social media, the elderly person is told their water quality is bad.  The scammer can come out and show them.  Then the scammer sells the homeowner a water filtration kit.”

Lorance told us, “All of our workers (City)  carry IDs. They drive city-marked trucks. We do not go into anyone’s home with a pre-appointment from the customer.  Any water testing we do can be done on outside taps.”

Bottom line, say Behrendt and Lorance:  You’re not obligated to open your door for anybody. No City Department is going to knock on your door without  you making an appointment first.  If you are a relative of an elderly person, someone with perhaps with cognitive issues, you need to have this conversation with them.

Categories: Good Morning San Diego