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Woman, 77, loses life savings in scam; suspect posed as disabled policeman

A 51-year-old man posing as a injured police officer doing handyman work because he needed money for a sick wife and son wiped out a widow’s life savings during a 10-month scam, Buffalo police say.

And detectives are urging others to come forward if they believe they, too, were defrauded.

Kevin Andrews of Michigan Avenue approached the 77-year-old Warwick Avenue resident last year, offering to perform handyman jobs. In order to gain the woman’s trust, Anderson told her that he was a Buffalo police officer injured on duty and awaiting the start of his disability checks, police officials said.

Going by the alias of Anthony Davis and claiming to also live on Warwick, Andrews told the woman his Florida-based health insurance did not cover “mandatory medication” for his wife and that his 13-year-old son suffered from a rare illness requiring medical treatment he was unable to pay for, according to Northeast District police.

No one knew about Andrews’ scam until the woman called her daughter in a panic Monday, urging her to stop by with $40. The daughter and her husband arrived, and the mother told them how she was helping Anthony Davis.

“They waited for Davis but when he saw them, he fled on his bicycle,” Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo said.

When the daughter contacted police Tuesday, Lt. John Pietrzak and Detective Erin McCarthy began an investigation that culminated with officers hiding in the woman’s home on Thursday when Andrews had arranged to return for the money, police said.

Even after he was arrested, Andrews refused to reveal his true identity and gave investigators a fake name, police said. It turned out he went by several aliases.

During interviews with the woman, whose identity was withheld, investigators were startled to learn of the lengths Andrews went to in convincing the woman of his desperate need for cash.

Individuals posed as “bank officials and medical doctors who called her and thanked her and told her she was doing the right thing,” an arrest report stated.

And there were other calls. Someone phoned, pretending to be from the suspect’s credit union.

“The credit union told her that Mr. Davis would repay her when she was able to provide further money ... releasing her own funds,” according to the report.

Andrews utilized five different phones, adding yet another layer to the scheme, police said.

At times, when the woman failed to act quickly and withdraw money from an ATM, Rinaldo said, Andrews became upset and “intimidated and threatened her.”

It was only when her savings – $18,000 – had been drained that she sought help from her daughter.

An undetermined amount of money also was gone from her checking account.

“Her savings account is wiped out and her checking account is in the negative. She can’t afford her own health insurance premiums, and she is in jeopardy of losing her home,” Rinaldo said.

Residents, particularly senior citizens, should practice caution if people show up on their doorstep seeking money, Rinaldo said. He urged family members to keep an eye on elderly relatives.

Those who think they were victims of Andrews were asked to call Northeast District detectives at 851-4019.

Andrews has been charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery, first-degree scheme to defraud, false impersonation and criminal impersonation. Officers Deana Fera and Jay Hall also assisted in the investigation.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com