BRANDON — Hillsborough sheriff's detectives hope that a surveillance video could generate the tip they need to catch two thieves who conned a 67-year-old woman last month into giving up $25,000 in cash, jewelry and coins.
The man and woman approached the victim, Annie Thomas, about noon Jan. 22, in the Walmart store at 11110 E. Causeway Blvd. They showed Thomas a wallet that contained a large amount of cash, which they pegged at $150,000, according to Hillsborough sheriff's officials.
The woman, who introduced herself to Thomas as "Mary Ann," claimed to have consulted with the store manager, whom she said allowed the three to keep the money if they could prove that they already owned property, authorities said.
The man, who called himself "Emmanuel," showed Thomas his own money and asked her if she could prove that she owned property, officials said. Thomas said she had jewelry and the key to her safe deposit box at home. Emmanuel then asked if he could accompany Thomas to retrieve the items while Mary Ann waited at Walmart.
Thomas took Emmanuel home with her, then drove with him to the Wells Fargo bank branch at 13140 U.S. Highway 301, where she retrieved the contents of her safe deposit box, authorities said. About 4 p.m., they drove back to Walmart and met Mary Ann.
Mary Ann told Thomas to go into the store and wait in the optical center for a "Mr. Goldberg," who would provide her with $50,000, authorities said.
Thomas did as she was told, but later realized she had been scammed, deputies said. She returned to her car 15 minutes later and found the couple had left with her valuables.
Emmanuel is 50 to 64 years old, between 6 feet 2 and 6 feet 4 and 220 to 240 pounds. He had short black hair and a mustache and wore a white dress shirt and a brown suede vest with a tie and a fedora.
Mary Ann is between 30 and 49 years old, 5 feet 3, and 150 pounds. She wore a black, straight hair piece, white pants, a brown suede jacket, boots, a scarf and a beige, black and burgundy knitted cap.
Anyone with information about the couple's identities can contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.