Woodstock police warn scam targeting seniors has returned

A Woodstock resident is the latest victim of an old scam that has returned, and police hope it serves as a warning to seniors in the region.

A 78-year-old woman was waiting inside a bus shelter at the busy Woodstock Transit Terminal when she was approached, police say, by a woman who offered to show her a gold chain and put it around her neck.

Woodstock Police Insp. Marci Shelton say, "And at that point the woman tried to sell her the necklace. Having done that the victim tried to remove the necklace, which she did. However, she removed the victim's necklace instead."

The incident on Saturday was all caught on a security camera belonging to the nearby police station, and shows the suspect then walking across a parking lot and getting into a vehicle.

The victim did not immediately realize her necklace had been switched. She called police two days later to tell them she'd been swindled of a piece of sentimental jewelry she'd had for over 40 years.

It's a scam that continues to resurface over the years, hitting big cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor, as well as smaller municipalities.

The scam artists move around, but almost exclusively pray on seniors who are walking or travelling alone, and police say self-awareness is the best defence.

"Look around at your surroundings, make sure there is an exit...that they can take. Be careful of how close you engage with these people. They are strangers, so we do have to be alerted to that," Shelton says.

A Woodstock Transit official says further cameras at the terminal are a potential budget request this year.

Meanwhile, police are looking for any information that might help in identifying the suspect.

She is described as a south-Asian female, 5'-5'2" tall, 130 pounds, wearing a long, dark-coloured coat, silk scarf, white knitted toque and spoke broken English.

The vehicle is described as an early-model Hyundai Santa Fe, black on top with grey on the bottom with tinted rear windows.