Ohio senior charged with armed robbery may be victim in online scam

Ann Mayers, who had no previous run-ins with the law, faces counts of aggravated robbery with a firearm and tampering with evidence in Friday's robbery in Fairfield Township, north of Cincinnati. (Credit: Fairfield Township Police Department)

Ohio authorities said a 74-year-old woman charged with armed robbery of a credit union is actually a victim of an online scam who may have been trying to solve her financial problems, according to her relatives.

Police in  Fairfield Township, north of Cincinnati. said Ann Mayers had no criminal history but now faces counts of aggravated robbery with a firearm and tampering with evidence.  She remained jailed Wednesday on $100,000 bond pending an initial court appearance, and court records don't list an attorney for her.

Mayers was arrested at her home shortly after ther robbery. Officers found a handgun in her car that was allegedly used in the robbery. 

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Authorities are now investigating claims that  Mayers might have been a scam victim. Her family told detectives that she had been sending money to an unidentified individual, The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday.

Ann Mayers (Credit: Fairfield Township Police Department)

"In that aspect, some may see her as a ‘victim,'" Sgt. Brandon McCroskey told the newspaper. "Unfortunately, Ann chose to victimize several other people in the bank by robbing it with a firearm as a remedy for her situation."

If what her relatives say is true, McCroskey called Mayers’ situation "very sad and unfortunate." He said she reportedly spoke with family members about robbing banks in the days leading up to the holdup, but they didn't take her comments seriously.

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Scams against seniors have become increasingly common over the last 10 to 15 years, according to experts. Among them are so-called grandparent scams in which callers claim to be anyone from a victim's grandchild to a police officer and tells the victim something terrible happened and that their younger relative needs money.

The scammers seek to exploit older people’s love for their family and, experts note, they can succeed in part because they tap into the abundance of personal information available about people online and use it make seniors believe the calls are legitimate.

An 81-year-old Ohio man was charged with murder this month after he fatally shot an Uber driver because he wrongly assumed she was part of a scheme to extract $12,000 in supposed bond money for a relative, authorities have said.

The driver was a victim of the same con, summoned by the grifters to the man's house to retrieve a purported package for delivery. The man later told investigators he believed Hall had arrived to get the money the scammers wanted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.