North Vancouver RCMP are warning seniors to be on the lookout after a con artist allegedly targeted a number of elderly victims over the past two months.
The latest victims were bilked as recently as Wednesday night.
Multiple incidents of seniors being scammed have been reported in North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Vancouver since mid-July, said Sgt. Peter DeVries, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP.
Police said the scam artist suspect presents himself as a well-dressed, well-mannered man in his ’40s or ’50s. He approaches elderly people who are by themselves under the pretense of needing or offering help, said DeVries, and often targets seniors in grocery store parking lots or outside residences.
In some cases he says he has locked his keys out of his car and needs help, said DeVries. In others, he offers to help carry groceries.
Police said his real goal is to win the trust of his victims. Once he has their trust, the con artist works his way into their car or home, and then quietly steals their wallets, purses and other valuables.
"Sometimes he plays the victim and other times the saviour," said DeVries. "He convinces his victims to either give or receive kindness, which seems a very lovely thing. But then he uses their goodness as a distraction so he can steal their belongings. He gains trust so that he can betray it. It’s manipulative and deplorable."
“It makes us angry that we have to tell the public they need to think twice before giving or accepting kindness from strangers,” said Sgt. DeVries. “That’s not the kind of society we’re all trying to cultivate.”
The suspected scam artist has been connected with at least nine incidents involving seniors being conned in North Vancouver.
Police are warning the public – especially seniors – to be vigilant, and to report any suspicious activity or incidents of being swindled by strangers to police.
Police are also appealing to the public to help locate the suspect in the case – 52-year-old Donald Robert Quinnell, of Chilliwack.
Quinnell is wanted on an outstanding warrant for breaching probation. Multiple charges are also pending against Quinnell in connection with the allegations of scamming seniors.
Quinnell is described as a white man, about 6 feet tall, 190 pounds, with short brown hair and brown eyes. He sometimes wears glasses or a baseball cap.
According to CrimeStoppers, Quinnell has several tattoos including a dragon and the words “bless this mess” on his chest, a grim reaper on his left arm and a skull and flames on his right arm.
Anyone who sees Quinnell should not approach him, said DeVries, but should call 911 instead.