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Rip-Off Alert: Online con artists work their ways on elderly

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 12/12/2012 6:00 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- In Tonight's Rip-Off Alert, a story of betrayal and fraud involving an elderly man and the younger woman he met online who cost him everything.

Douglas Butler is angry. His 80-year-old father lost his life savings -- more than $2 million -- to a woman he met online.

"If she could think of a lie to tell my dad about why she needed money, she told it,” he said. "He was very conservative, frugal and … the idea that he was handing out money -- he would hand over $100,000 at a time -- never occurred to anyone."

"She told him she needed the money for breast cancer surgery, purchase a vehicle to fix up her home and also pay off debt to leave her job and be with him,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Amy Kerkof.

Postal inspectors began tracking bank records and found the suspect, Shea Saenger, was spending the money on a new house, new equipment for her family farm and additional land.

"This case was rather compelling and heartbreaking because the victim suffers Alzheimer's and was so far gone… didn't realize he was a victim,” Kerkof said.

Inspectors say con artists often prey on the vulnerable and elderly.

"Currently, we are working on getting funds back to the victims,” Kerkof said. “The farm equipment and land and other assets are being liquidated so they can pay for his medical care."

"To me, when someone steals everything from you -- it's everything,” Douglas Butler said. “It doesn't matter what the dollar value was."

A reminder: It's not only important to keep tabs on what your children are doing online but your parents as well.


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