An Oklahoma City man is accused of scamming an elderly woman out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Today the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office charged Doyle Dee Higginbottom with 5 felony counts of financial exploitation of the elderly.
An arrest warrant has been issued and he has been formally charged, but he is yet to be taken into custody.
According to the charges, it was an alert employee at a Chase bank branch that noticed a lot of checks being made out to the suspect - and that triggered the investigation.
According to court documents, it is a 93-year-old woman who lived at the Baptist home retirement center that was the victim of this crime. In all she was scammed out of a total of $18,675, from Higginbottom, who she considered a close family friend.
Joyce Demoss is a neighbor and had seen that man visiting. She even saw him driving the victim's car. And she said she was shocked to hear the allegations.
“It's sad and I'm sorry to hear it,” said Demoss. “I'm very thankful that they caught it.”
Court documents state the checks were usually written out in $200 and $300 increments over several months. The memo line of nearly every check made some sort of reference to a vehicles gas, labor, repairs and parts. They were signed by the victim and made out to Higginbottom.
According to the investigation, the victim had known the suspect for most of her life. He and his wife had cared for the victim until his wife's death in 2010. Then the suspect's daughter began assisting the victim with her finances.
Higginbottom has no record of any prior arrests.
News 9 went to his southwest Oklahoma City home, but neighbors say we had just missed him.
The Oklahoma Banker's Association actually started a fraud unit in 2003 to help spot scams just like this. Elaine Dodd is Vice President of the OBA fraud unit and says Oklahoma bankers are trained to look for things like this in an effort to protect the elderly and their money.
“Unfortunately sometimes the pattern is hard to see on someone's account, because you have typical checks that come through, or there is someone taking care of someone,” said Dodd. “But if you get that red flag- if you get something to know something's wrong, that's when our banks are able to connect them with adult protective services, law enforcement, family - whoever it takes to protect that valuable senior.”
The Oklahoma City police Department also has a unit called TRIAD to help protect seniors from scams and offer other crime prevention tips. They have 3 TRIAD groups that meet monthly. Call the OKC Police TRIAD coordinator at 316-4336 for details of when and where. Meetings are free and open to the public.