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80-Year-Old Vet Scammed out of $1.5 Million in Gold Bars

An 80-year-old veteran was reportedly defrauded out of $1.5 million of gold in a sophisticated scheme involving fake federal agents and phony sting operations.

According to Fox 13 in Tampa, one woman, Swetaben Patel, 42, was arrested Thursday for her participation in the scheme. “Police say there appear to be numerous people involved in this fraud scheme,” Fox 13 reported.

Police in Bradenton, Florida were first told of the scam by the 80-year-old vet—Fox 13 didn’t say in which branch he served—in April. The alleged incidents began in February, when the victim received a knock at his door from two people posing as federal agents, Fox13 reported, citing police documents.

“They stated they had a warrant for his arrest,” Det. Jim Curulla said. “The supervisor then proceeded to talk to the victim and said they thought he could do more good than being arrested.”

According to Fox13, the supervisor called that victim once or twice a day for the next month to gain his trust.

“They were saying he was going to help with social security fraud,” Curulla reportedly said. “That he was going to come up with some seed money and they were going to do a sting operation.”

The scammers allegedly conned the man into transferring a total of around $1.5 million of his retirement money in gold bars.

“The victim was retired military, so they played upon his experience in the military,” Curulla reportedly said. “They played upon his patriotism.”

The victim reportedly met the fake agents at several different locations for organized drop-offs of the gold bars. Investigators tracked one of the cars used at a drop-off to Patel, one of the alleged mules, who lived in Georgia, according to Fox13, which cited a police affidavit.

It appears as if Patel is a minor player in the fraud scheme. She reportedly told police she was picking up “bags” for a man she knew as “King.”

She reportedly told officers that one of her trips was to North Carolina to collect $25,000 from an elderly woman.

Patel reportedly faces one charge of grand theft of more than $100,000.

According to an FBI report released in April, scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from Americans aged 60 and older last year—and those are only the reported incidents.

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