Waco couple raises awareness after being robbed of $20,000

Posted at 6:54 PM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-24 22:21:05-04

WACO, Texas — James and Anne Anderson have lived in their Waco home for 15 years. They said they never had any problems until just recently.

James started to rebuild the back porch this month. On October 6, he made a stop at Lowes to pick up some equipment.

"I sat down on the ground behind the car and was fiddling trying to get it tight so it wouldn't bounce around," he said. "Conceivably someone saw me and thinking this guy's inexperienced, he'll be an easy target."

Less than two hours later, a man showed up at their home saying his name was Brandon and he wanted to help build the porch. James told 25 News he was confused because his friend has a son-in-law named Brandon, but he wasn't sure if this was the same person.

"I presumed maybe it was him, but when he came up to me, he was too slender," James said. "I said 'are you sick? Are you alright?' he said, 'oh yeah, I had cancer but I'm alright.'"

More red flags started to appear in Brandon's story, but not before James invited him inside their home.

"He brought him in and introduced him and he went out to make a phone call," James' wife Anne said. "I thought 'I don't know who this is, why are you leaving me alone?'"

James stepped outside to call his friend and see if the man in his home with his wife Anne was really Brandon. While he was gone, the man proceeded to discuss how he could help with the porch.

"I go well if you guys are going to get the materials, I need to go get some money," Anne said. "I made the world's biggest error."

"Brandon" followed her into a bedroom where she opened a safe to get cash.

"I was having difficulties and I was getting down into the safe and all of a sudden I felt an arm go passed my head and I thought what's going on?" she recalled.

He reached around her, taking a Starbucks bag full of money, then took off with about $20,000.

"The man came out of the house and said, 'oh we're just going to go pick up the supplies ourselves and be back in a little bit,'" James said.

But they never returned.

"They tend to know where the money is and the money is in the older population that has saved for retirement, might have a pension, might have social security, housing wealth," Kathy Stokes with the AARP Fraud Prevention Program told 25 News. "They will go after that with abandon."

Stokes said seniors are often targeted because they tend to have larger savings, which also means they have a lot more to lose.

"If you're 23 and a scam costs you $200, that never should happen and it's terrible but you're in your 20s and you can make up for it," she said. "But when you're 85 and you lost $200,000 there's no getting that money back and there's no going back to the workforce to try to make that up."

Scammers might take a similar approach as "Brandon." A common scam can include someone stopping by your home saying they have extra materials after working on a neighbor's house and can sell it to you at a low cost.

"When people come to you unsolicited, you really have to prepare for the fact that's probably a fraudulent offer," Stokes said. "You want to talk to various companies before making a decision, get something in writing instead of agreeing verbally and don't pay upfront."