A 72-year-old man is facing a theft charge after he scammed a widow out of $4,500 and may have worked the scheme for decades in 12 states, according to a press release by the Mount Pleasant Police Department.
Francis J. Riordon, was charged Monday, Aug. 24 with a felony count of theft – false representation (special facts) and falsely acting as a public official by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office. If convicted of both charges, he faces up to nine years, six months in prison and/or fined up to $20,000.
According to the criminal complaint, Mount Pleasant Police learned that Riordon contacted a woman after her husband had recently died. He told her his name was “Mr. Bradley” from a bank examiner. He explained that there was a problem with her bank account and she would need to void a $4,500 check, hand the check to the bank teller, make a withdraw of the same amount and give the cash to him to complete an investigation. Riordon promised to return the cash.
Meeting the woman in the parking lot at a grocery store, Riordan showed the woman his bank credentials and she gave the $4,500 to him. The woman never heard from him again.
Riordon was taken into custody outside of his home on Friday, Aug. 21.
When officials from the Lake Geneva and Mount Pleasant police departments raided Riordon’s home they found fraudulent credentials, badges, and over 1,200 note cards with names of elderly women and phone numbers of possible victims of the scam. Police believe Riordon may have operated the scam over several decades, and it may have spanned over 52 area codes and 12 states as he would shop for widows to contact by reading obituaries.
The investigation is ongoing. Mount Pleasant Police are also investigation Riordon for other crimes as there are other victims. Riordin had contacted 29 elderly women on Aug. 21. Investigators contacted some of the women and they told them that Riordin said he was from a bank and he was investigating problems with their bank accounts as well, according to the criminal complaint.
Riordon also used an alias of Fred J. Reynolds. He told police he changed his name to Fred Reynolds because he had prior felony convictions so he created a new name and date of birth.
Editor’s note: This story was updated from its original version to include details from the criminal complaint.