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This article was published 11/6/2010 (4068 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNNIPEG - Police across Canada are looking for a smooth-talking scammer who bilks elderly victims out of cash by pretending he’s a long-lost relative.
Det. Sgt. Sandra Martin of the Winnipeg Police Service commercial crime unit said the 54-year-old suspect is a career fraud artist.
Richard Rupert is wanted in connection with frauds in Winnipeg and Toronto. A Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest.
Police received an alert last Friday from a employee who recognized a man from a wanted poster located in a bank on the 300 block of St. Mary Avenue, Martin said.
The employee said a man fitting Rupert’s description was with a man in his late 70s, and waited with him while the man took out money from an ATM. Officers arrived too late to capture the suspect.
The police believe that man is Rupert, and want to track him down.
"He just tries a whole bunch of really slick lines," Martin said.
"If no one bites, then he leaves and he moves on, but he tries it often enough, he comes across people who are willing to feel sorry for him."
Rupert uses apartment directories at places such as seniors’ homes to track names of potential victims. Martin said Rupert’s known for befriending elderly people and telling them he’s a nephew or distant relative whose car has broken down. Then, he asks them for cash.
She described the tactics as "pretty despicable."
"Right now, that generation of seniors are sitting on a lot of wealth, and there’s money to be had," she said.
She said elderly people might be prey because they are more likely to be polite to strangers or less adept at technology such as a bank machine.
Last summer, another elderly person in Winnipeg gave money to a man fitting the same description in a similar scenario. Martin said victims may be too embarrassed to come forward after they’ve been bilked.
She said Rupert is distinctive due to his receding hairline. He’s a clean-shaven, Caucasian man with chiselled cheek bones and hazel eyes.
He weighs about 140 to 160 pounds and is about 5-foot-6. His hair is dirty blond or light grey.
"He’s very personable, which is pretty typical of a lot of con men," Martin said.
Anyone with information can call police at 986-6222 or Crime Stoppers at 786-8477.