EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A man was facing charges on Long Island Wednesday, after he allegedly duped an elderly woman by falsely claiming she bumped into his vehicle.
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, the woman handed over some cash, but police said the alleged crook then presented a phony repair bill demanding more money.
Nassau County police alleged that Christopher Gabriele, 31, of Massapequa, ripped off the elderly woman by claiming a traffic accident that never happened.
Police said Gabriele pulled over the 79-year-old woman at a busy supermarket in East Meadow, claiming that she had bumped into him with her vehicle in the parking lot and should pay for repairs.
Police said the suspect intimidated the older woman not into calling police, but instead into driving to her nearby apartment at a senior complex in Levittown. Neighbors said she then gave him $600 in cash.
“He didn’t want to go through insurance or something. I don’t know what happened, actually,” said neighbor Louise Esposito, “except that he did follow her home, and he wanted more money. She came here, and he followed her in here, and she called the cops.”
Neighbors said the victim is a retired hospital worker. She did not return CBS2’s calls for an interview. Meanwhile, shoppers accustomed to dealing with the busy parking lot where the victim as stopped were alarmed at the brazen fender scam.
“First of all, everyone’s backing into everybody, so that gets me nervous,” said Denise Lamster of Bellmore. “But about that poor woman, that’s just awful. It sounds like someone is preying on older individuals to take advantage of them.”
Lamster said she is always on the lookout for scams, and would not have gotten out of her vehicle if the suspect had approached her that way.
“She should have went directly to the police, or she should have went inside and called somebody. She shouldn’t have gave the person the money – that’s so sad,” Lamster said. “But she was probably afraid.”
Police said you should always call them to report an accident – how ever minor it may be or even if it is falsely claimed.
Gabriele is free on bond, charged with petit larceny. He is due in court on Feb. 9.