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Cops: Local con men targeting elderly women

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County police are warning local residents that a pair of recent incidents -- scams in which alleged con men pretended to know their elderly female victims in order to enter their homes -- may be part of a larger trend.

The most recent incident occurred Saturday afternoon, police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. At about 3:15 p.m., a suspect described as a Hispanic male approximately 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds rang the doorbell at a Peachtree Corners area home, asking the elderly woman who answered the door "if she had received the note he claimed to have left at her home a few days before," Smith said.

The suspect claimed to have been at the home to install a fence, and asked the victim to join him in the backyard.

"She spent several minutes with the suspect in the backyard," Smith said, "during which time the suspect spoke on a walkie-talkie."

The unidentified suspect spoke on the walkie-talkie a final time, this time in Spanish, before quickly walking to the front of the home and leaving in a champagne-colored Ford F150. The victim later discovered that several pieces of jewelry had been stolen from her home while she was with the suspect, Smith said.

Ten days earlier -- at another Peachtree Corners home very near the second -- a white male suspect knocked on the victim's door, claiming to be her old Atlanta Journal-Constitution delivery person and addressing her by name.

"The suspect hugged the victim and acted as if they had known each other for some time," Smith said.

In this case, however, no theft was committed. The would-be victim reportedly told the suspect -- who identified himself as "Michael Thompson" and is about 6 feet tall -- that her husband was at home.

He quickly left in a copper-colored, older model vehicle driven by another man, Smith said.

Detectives are investigating both cases, Smith said, and believe it "is likely that these suspects are specifically targeting older females who they believe are home alone." Police said the incidents "may be part of a larger trend."

Anyone who may have dealt with the suspects but not filed a police report is asked to call detectives at 770-513-5300. Anyone who encounters them in the future is asked to call 911.