Tag Archive for: elder theft

Woman pushing shopping cart in supermarket.

DA Warns of Purse Snatchers Targeting Elderly Women at Supermarkets

In the wake of a criminal case filed against three defendants, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is warning the public about criminals  targeting elderly women at shopping centers throughout the county to steal their purses while they shop. Three defendants have been arrested and arraigned in a current case that involves 15 separate victims, most of whom are elderly Filipino/Asian women between the ages of 64 and 89.

The incidents happened between January and April of this year in the cities of San Diego and National City. The thieves canvas shopping centers and wait for elderly women to leave stores and walk to their cars. When the victims put their purses in the passenger seat of their vehicles as they load up their groceries, the defendants pull their car up, one of them gets out and grabs the purse off the front seat of the car and runs to the getaway car. In most cases, the suspects use the victims’ stolen credit cards and pawn any other valuable items. While the value of the stolen property may not always include a large amount of money, the emotional impact to these victims is often significant.

Defendant Shawntece Davis, 32, was arraigned in San Diego Superior Court today, while her two co-defendants, Kenya Frazier, 29, and David Anthony Foster, 67, were arraigned last week. All three face multiple counts of theft from an elder, robbery, burglary, and conspiracy to commit elder theft, among other charges. The defendants face up to 8 and 17 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.

Those who prey on the elderly should understand that these crimes will not be tolerated and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In this case the defendants were caught, thanks to great investigative work and collaboration from the National City and the San Diego Police Departments,” said DA Stephan. “In order to keep our community safe, especially the elderly and vulnerable, it is important that everyone remains vigilant and aware of their surroundings and hold on to their personal belongings while they are out shopping.”

Prosecutors say these types of crimes are occurring in every area of the county. They advise women in busy shopping centers to avoid shopping with large purses and never leave purses unattended in the shopping cart or open in their vehicles while focused on other tasks. Law enforcement is also reminding the public that if you see something, say something. And if you believe you witness suspicious activity in shopping center parking lots, document license plate numbers and physical descriptions of those involved.  

“Abuse and crimes against the elderly come in many forms. It’s sickening to see criminals prey on our most vulnerable community members,” said SDPD Chief of Police Scott Wahl. “We are committed to ensuring anyone who victimizes our seniors will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”

“I am incredibly proud of our officers working closely with the San Diego Police Department for their exceptional work on these series-related cases,” said National City Police Chief Alejandro Hernandez. “This case highlights the importance of teamwork in safeguarding our community.”

In North County, the DA’s Family Protection Unit is also prosecuting similar but separate cases with theft rings targeting elderly women shopping. Thieves are taking the wallets from purses when victims put their purses in the shopping cart and don’t pay attention while they shop. Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello, who leads the DA’s Elder Abuse Unit is prosecuting the case involving the three defendants Davis, Frazier, and Foster.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was last Saturday and serves as a reminder that we need to continue to work together to help our elders avoid becoming exploited and victimized. Older people throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation. Elder abuse also creates health care and legal costs for our society. The District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Unit, which is part of the Family Protection Division, works to protect seniors through crime prevention outreach and prosecution of those who prey on seniors.

If a situation appears to be life threatening or a crime is in progress, call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agencies such as police and Sheriff’s departments. Some agencies have specialized units that focus on crimes involving elder and dependent adults. If you believe elder or dependent abuse has occurred, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-339-4661.


Photo of gavel and scales of justice.

Woman Convicted in Elder Theft Case is Sentenced

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said today that a woman who illegally took possession of an 89-year-old victim’s house and refused to vacate it has been sentenced to two years formal probation and 150 hours of community service. The sentence was handed down this afternoon in San Diego Superior Court downtown.The defendant, Asfar “Benny” Shamlou was also ordered to stay away from the property and victims in this case. The victim’s family is currently in the process of regaining possession of the home.

“This defendant took advantage of an elderly woman in poor health and was brought to justice by our DA Real Estate Fraud team,” said DA Stephan. “Elder abuse comes in many forms. Our office pursues justice on behalf of seniors and works to hold defendants like this accountable for preying on some of the most vulnerable in our community.”

In this case, the victim, who suffers from dementia, had a stroke in 2018 and moved into a nursing care facility. Shamlou, 67, whose website indicates she has a background in finance and real estate investments, identified the Carmel Mountain Ranch home as being vacant and delinquent on property taxes. She illegally moved into the home in early 2021. When confronted by the victim’s family, she told them she had paid the back taxes and that she now owned the home. Shamlou threw away all of the owner’s possessions and even remodeled the home.

The defendant was charged with five felony counts including theft from an elder, burglary, grand theft of personal property, and vandalism. She was convicted of all criminal counts by a jury in December of 2023.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney John Dunn who is the lead prosecutor in the DA’s Real Estate Fraud Unit. Suspected fraud or other real estate related crime can be reported to the District Attorney here.