A woman who called herself Ashley and claimed to be a fraud investigator for Bank of America had very detailed information when she phoned account holders.
She sometimes knew their bank card numbers, most recent transactions and current bank account balances, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says.
One woman has been arrested in this fraud case so far, and the Sheriff’s Office is reminding the public to be wary of phone calls from people impersonating bankers.
After making the initial calls, Ashley would send another woman to the victims’ homes. The residents felt comfortable that a legitimate effort was being made to halt fraudulent activity on their accounts and would provide their personal access numbers and their cards.
In exchange, they were promised that replacement cards would be delivered soon, according to arrest reports.
But those promises were broken, along with the budgets of some elderly victims whose accounts were depleted, often within the hour that they had handed their bank cards to a stranger.
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Dierdre Denise Dixon, 39, of Fort Lauderdale on April 5. In the narratives of five arrest reports, the woman who called herself Ashley is not identified, and Dixon is accused of making some but not all of the thefts from the bank and credit card accounts.
Dixon told investigators that she was new to this type of crime and that a ringleader directed her, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Dixon would meet victims at their homes, take the cards and visit an ATM or Publix store to make withdrawals, buy money orders, or at a Best Buy, purchase laptops. Someone who she spoke with by cellphone provided the PIN numbers on the stolen cards, according to detectives.
The victims were 58 to 83 years old. Their losses happened between Dec. 8, 2018, and Feb. 24, and ranged from $5,004 to $9,549, totaling approximately $43,818.
Because detectives are still investigating, victims who could be reached Tuesday said they were afraid to comment on their cases.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office declined to discuss evidence in its investigation, including how the fraudsters knew so much personal information about the victims’ and their accounts.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said a warrant has been issued for a co-defendant’s arrest.
She warned residents that a bank representative will not call to arrange an employee visit to one’s home to exchange debit or credit cards.
Dixon faces five counts of burglary of an occupied home; 51 counts of grand theft; attempted grand theft; 58 counts of fraudulent use of personal identification of a person over age 60 and 18 counts, possession of a stolen debit/credit card.
The public defender’s office, which represents Dixon, and the prosecutors’ office both declined to comment.
The court found Dixon to be indigent, and she is being held without bond in a Palm Beach County jail, records show.
The Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information about these cases to call Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 1-800-458-8477. The organization accepts anonymous tips.