For the first time, victims spoke out about an alleged scam artist's scheme, in which he allegedly staged car accidents to extort the victims out of hundreds of dollars. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
A 42-year-old man accused of extorting seniors out of money by staging fake accidents and demanding the victims pay for his bogus SUV repairs was arrested Tuesday, police said.
David Stevens, arrested at his home about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, preyed on older drivers primarily in the San Fernando Valley and the Mid-City area, police said.
'He flags them down and tells them that they were involved in traffic collision either at the time victim was pulls out of parking space or as he was getting onto the street,' LAPD Det. Marjan Mobasser said.
He was booked on suspicion of grand theft, felony stalking, elder abuse and burglary, police said.
"I didn't feel it, but he said I hit him," said a 87-year-old victim who did not want to be identified.
That victim told NBC4 that he paid over $30,000 to the man over the course of three months, and that the man stalked the victim at his home using convincing stories to get more money.
"I was terrified he'd open the door and this guy would just mow him down," the victim's daughter said.
Despite a lack of damage, Stevens threatened to call police or the Department of Motor Vehicles unless they agreed to pay for repairs, falsely telling his victims they could lose their license because of their age, according to police.
Stevens typically pretended to call a someone for a repair estimate, then followed victims to their bank or an ATM, police said.
A 92-year-old woman named Lee said she had an encouter with the suspect just last week.
"He said, 'You backed into me at the market,'" Lee said.
Lee said she argued with Stevens, but that he didn't budge, and that he finally settled for $300.
In at least one case, Stevens followed one of his victims home to collect cash, police said.
In at least one other case, he got someone to empty their savings account and turn the cash over to him.
Stevens, jailed on $1.25 million bail, may have victimized other people, and police have asked for them to come forward by calling Detective Marjan Mobasser at 818-374-0053.
He was described as 5 feet 7 inches and 320 pounds and drove a 1997 brown Chevrolet SUV with license plate 3WVA498 or 7CDG659.