2006_10_munchkin.jpgWhen a Queens District Attorney's Office press release (PDF) actually names a defendant "Natasha Munchkin Marks," you know the case will be good. It seems that a petite 18 year old (now 20) Marks would flirt with men ages 85 and 79 outside stores and somehow managed to extract thousands from them. From 85 year old Louis Bruno, she managed to borrow $249,000 for fake illnesses and emergencies - and then took power of attorney and put a $560,000 mortgage on his house! Bruno is sad, telling the Daily News he gave her money to take care of her and that he was going to propose to her.

Queens DA Richard Brown made a statement about America's aging population while discussing the crime:

“In typical sweetheart swindler fashion, the defendant is accused of befriending elderly men and preying on their loneliness and vulnerability to scam them out of their life savings. Crimes involving the financial exploitation of the elderly – particularly those involving so-called sweetheart scams – are among the most devastating forms of elder abuse. Unfortunately, as America steadily grays, we are seeing such crimes occurring with more and more frequency.”

And did you know that "Under the provisions of New York State’s Hate Crimes Act of 2000, enhanced charges can be filed when a defendant commits a larceny and selects his or her victim because of their age which is defined as being 60 years of age or older"? This is totally Law & Order: Elder Fraud Unit!

Daily News also noted that authorities believe Marks "worked with other accomplices and have ties to a nationwide web of grifters and scam artists." Like Ocean's Eleven? Anyway, Marks is being held on $500,000 bail.