Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro Tuesday announced the arrest of a Washington County man charged with using an investment scheme to steal approximately $159,000 from a 69-year-old Lancaster County woman.
Shapiro said the scam artist led the victim to believe she would face retaliation from the mafia if she did not continue giving him money. The victim lost her life’s savings to the scheme.
Yancey Taylor, 45, of Donora, used the money that he extorted from the victim and gambled it away at various casinos in Pennsylvania, Shapiro said at a news conference at the Lancaster County Courthouse.
“This scam artist preyed on an elderly woman and stole her life savings,” Shapiro said in an emailed news release. “He came into her life, gained her trust, and then abused that trust to fuel his own greed and gambling habit. We will not tolerate those who scam our seniors. We’re here to protect them.”
Shapiro credited the work of a statewide investigative grand jury and Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye, who handled the case in the grand jury that recommended charges against Taylor. The case was referred to the Office of Attorney General by Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedma’s office.
Taylor first met the victim — Karen Fedrow, a retired, lifelong educator from Lancaster — in 2012, when she rented a home to Taylor that she owned in Westmoreland County. Initially, Taylor helped Fedrow recover funds owed to her by a previous tenant, gaining her trust.
Eventually, Taylor told the retiree of an “investment” opportunity in which she would earn money and receive a guaranteed return. Fedrow began investing money with Taylor, who told her she had to keep investing more funds or her initial investment would be lost. She began giving Taylor money in larger installments, $3,000 one time, $4,000 another time. In June 2013, Fedrow withdrew $18,000 over a five-day period and gave it to Taylor.
Taylor told his victim her investments had accrued “fees” that were owed to someone known as “the Boss.” At other times, he told her the mafia was involved, and that both he and Fedrow had to answer to “the Boss.” Fedrow grew suspicious over time, and then became fearful when she received strange telephone calls from people who threatened her to keep giving Taylor more money.
Fedrow testified before the grand jury that the only person she ever met or paid money to was Taylor. Between February and August of 2013, Fedrow gave Taylor approximately $159,000. She took out loans against her home and liquidated her life’s savings, including an IRA.
Taylor is charged with one count each of theft by deception and theft by extortion, second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Shapiro said investigators believe there may be additional victims who were scammed by Taylor, and he urged anyone with information to contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations at 717-787-6858.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.