For many, neighbors can be trusted friends you can rely on in difficult times. For others, neighbors can be your worst nightmare, especially when they steal your identity and drain your bank accounts. (It’s time to move.) Today’s “Fraud of the Day,” which appeared in The Tampa Tribune, highlights a woman who took advantage of her neighbors, all for selfish gain.

The story explains how a 59-year-old woman befriended and then bamboozled her 88-year-old neighbor and her 67-year-old disabled son. (That’s pretty low.) After persuading them to divulge their financial information under the guise of being helpful, the fraudster managed to deplete the neighbor’s bank accounts. In addition to defrauding her neighbors, the woman also scammed some other federal taxpayers and filed fraudulent tax returns with stolen personal identity information.

The judge who heard the case called the perpetrator “a walking fraud” and her actions “despicable.” (I can come up with a few more words.) The fraudster tearfully accepted blame for her actions and was ordered to serve nine years in jail and pay $249,000, including more than $66,000 to the IRS.

Fraudsters usually don’t live by the Golden Rule and, instead, believe that what is yours is theirs. In this case, the criminal got what she deserved. I wonder how she’ll get along with her neighbors in jail. Like good fences make good neighbors, good cell bars make good cell mates.

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