Man charged with scamming 93-year-old, impersonating DA

Shelton Thomas
Shelton Thomas
Posted: February 26, 2014

A Cobbs Creek man faces a slew of felony charges after, District Attorney Seth Williams said, he swindled a 93-year-old man out of at least $95,000 over three years by impersonating Williams.

For several years, Raymond Campbell, a retired federal government worker and a World War II veteran, had hired Shelton Thomas, 47, to cut his grass, Williams said.

In June 2011, Thomas told Campbell he had been arrested for dumping grass cuttings in an "unauthorized dumpster" and said Campbell had to pay his court costs and fees, Williams said.

Williams said Thomas spent the next three years calling Campbell and impersonating several judges and the district attorney. Identifying himself as Williams, Thomas told Campbell he owed fees to the city and that the district attorney had appointed Thomas to collect those fees.

In the last three years, Williams said, Thomas has taken at least $95,000 from Campbell and possibly more. He collected the cash in small amounts, Williams said - $100 here, $250 there.

The scam was discovered when Campbell's family grew suspicious and called police. Thomas was arrested when he showed up at Campbell's home to collect another payment.

He told detectives that Williams - who grew up with him in Cobbs Creek - was his "best friend," Williams said.

"I'm disgruntled someone would prey on the reputation I have," Williams said, calling the crime "stupid and idiotic."

Campbell, for his part, remained unconvinced that he had been scammed and at one point told relatives to stay out of his business, said his nephew, Timothy Johnson.

Williams said he had to meet with Campbell to convince him that Thomas had been stealing from him for years.

Thomas' bail has been set at $750,000. He has been charged with robbery, burglary, theft by deception, theft by extortion, identity theft, impersonating a public servant, and other offenses.

Williams called Thomas a "dirt ball" and encouraged the public to report suspected cases of elder abuse and scams to his office by calling 215-686-8000.

"I want to ensure the public that cases like this are taken very seriously," he said.


awhelan@philly.com

610-313-8112

@aubreyjwhelan

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