Sat10252014

News

Police arrest alleged senior scammer

Los Altos police arrested a Mountain View man Monday who they say befriended a Los Altos senior citizen and then bilked him out of more than $10,000 over the course of a year and a half. The man had allegedly falsely promised a large return on an investment.

Don Ayazi, 49, told the victim that if he invested a “large sum of money up front” and smaller deposits over time, the victim would end up with a “substantial amount of money,” according to Sgt. Scott McCrossin.

“Basically the suspect had utilized a ruse and indicated it was an investment,” he said. “It was based on words and handshakes. … There was no documentation to support the investment.”

After relatives of the victim spotted “suspicious activity” in his bank account, according to McCrossin, who declined to go into detail, they discovered the fraudulent investment and called the police. McCrossin declined to specify how much money the victim forked over.

The victim and suspect became acquainted approximately three years ago at a Palo Alto business where Ayazi worked, McCrossin said.

Los Altos’ seniors comprise nearly a quarter of the population, which can make the city of nearly 30,000 an attractive target for scammers.

“It’s important to note for the elderly public in particular, who at times tend to be more trusting, we definitely encourage getting documentation, signatures, even having an attorney present,” McCrossin said.

Los Altos has been the target of related senior-focused cons in the past. In one such scam, a grandparent would receive a phone call from someone posing as his or her grandchild, according to Capt. Andy Galea. After pretending to be in some kind of distress, the fake grandchild requested money.

“It’s very unfortunate there are people out there that target the elderly, relying on their trust,” Galea said.

As for the victim’s money in the Ayazi case, McCrossin said he’s still determining its whereabouts.

“The location of the money is not obvious,” he said. “I’m still investigating.”

Anyone who has been similarly approached can call Los Altos Police Department’s Crime Prevention Officer, Paco Vergara, at 947-2776.

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