(02/19/14) - There is a warning from the Better Business Bureau as the organization releases the "Top Ten Scams of 2013"
Often, it's the elderly who fall victim.
"You're easy bait for them because you want to help all the time," said scam victim Leonardo Rayez.
According to the Genesee County Sheriff, Rayez, a Korean War Veteran, is one of many Mid-Michigan elderly residents victimized by scammers.
"I was just here by myself, they were out doing stuff and with no food, they took my phone away, they were using my phone, my truck, I just made it easy for them," Rayez said.
Rayez was befriended by three people who first started helping him out, then shared a tale of hardship that turned out to be phony. The three eventually got to his wallet.
Investigators say elderly exploitation is the most common type of scam in Genesee County.
"Men like Mr. Rayez and women as well that grew as part of that generation, they did business on a hand shake. Your word meant everything and of course over the years, things have changed. And many of our elderly are vulnerable, even though Mr. Rayez's mind is good, he becomes vulnerable as that he can be sucked in easily," said Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.
This week, the better Business Bureau released its top ten list of most-frequent scams. Among the growing ones are those that promise a free medical alert system.
Another claims you need to pay money immediately to avoid criminal charges and there's also the Affordable Care Act Scam, where thieves use Obamacare registration as a way to get personal information.
"If the deal sounds too good, then it is too good to be true. Any deal someone is trying to offer you or some heart-throb story. Call us down here at the sheriff, we have two investigators that work full time in elder abuse," Pickell said.
Three people now face a combination of 21 charges after Pickell says they stole nearly $30,000 from Rayez. His life savings were wiped out, forcing him to file bankruptcy.
"I'll never be in a position where I was before, no way. I have no way of earning that kind of money any more," Rayez said.
ABC12 Main Station