83-year-old man rescues elderly friend from parking lot scammers
WHEATON, Md. (WJLA) - A trip to the grocery store nearly wiped out an 85-year-old Kensington woman's checking account.
Gloria Yockelson emerged from the Giant supermarket located beside Wheaton Plaza with bags of groceries in hand. It was 4 p.m. on a hot Monday in late July. Yockelson exited the busy store parking lot in her gold Honda Accord when trouble struck.
"A car pulled up to the right of me and started honking. [The men inside] were waving their arms and holding up a bolt of some kind," Yockelson said.
In that vehicle were Michael Demetro, 20, of Glen Burnie, and an 18-year-old man. Police say the duo told the 85-year-old that a lug nut had fallen off her rear tire, making the vehicle unsafe to drive. And so, the men allegedly guided Yockelson to a nearby residential street, where the self-proclaimed Honda mechanics offered to fix the problem.
"Every time I wanted to get out of the car, they kept telling me it was too hot," Yockelson remarked. "It was a feeling of panic and isolation because I didn't know what they were going to do next."
Investigators say Demetro and his automotive ally grabbed a jack, hoisted the car, and then pretended to repair the vehicle, which was in perfect condition. About 30 minutes later, the seemingly Good Samaritans allegedly got greedy.
"He [Demetro] finished and said, 'You know this job would have cost you $5,000 had you gone to the shop, but we're only going to charge you $3,400,'” Yockelson stated. "That's when I knew I was being taken."
Utilizing a combo platter or dramatics and quick thinking, Yockelson pretended to break down into tears, and then called her longtime friend Eddie Lynch.
"She was very excited, very upset and scared to death," Lynch, who recently turned 83, said. "I thought, 'I better call 911.' So, I did."
Montgomery County officers arrived within minutes, and detained Demetro and his alleged accomplice. Neither man had managed to pinch a penny from their 85-year-old target, still seated in her vehicle.
"They were looking for a quick way to make money, and it's a heck of a way to do it. I don't care if you're a senior or what, to prey on someone for something like this, it's disgusting," Yockelson said.
ABC 7 News visited Demetro's townhome along the 1400 block of Braden Loop in Glen Burnie. A knock on the front door led a woman, who identified herself as the 20-year-old's mother, to walk outside, where she made threats and grabbed the station's handheld microphone.
Demetro's mother: "You have no right to be here."
ABC 7's Kevin Lewis: "This is a public sidewalk."
Demetro's mother: "Shut the camera down. I will have my lawyer sue you. You don't know what kind of lawyer I have."
ABC 7's Kevin Lewis: "Police say your son scammed an 85-year-old woman and we want your side of the story."
Demetro's mother: "Sir, I don't know what you're talking about."
According to charging documents, Demetro told officers he provided his services to Yockelson free of charge, but that the 85-year-old insisted on paying him thousands of dollars as a way to show her appreciation. Police did not buy his story, and charged the 20-year-old with Attempt to Obtain Property of a Vulnerable Adult and Conspiracy to Obtain Property of a Vulnerable Adult. Demetro is due in Montgomery County District Court on Oct. 9 at 8:30 a.m.
"What do I call them? Con artists, Academy Award con artists. I would love to get my hands on them now," Yockelson said, with a grin on her face. "I would love to see them face-to-face."