For release on April 30, 2012
CONTACT PERSON: Cherie Bourlard, Deputy District Attorney Elder and Dependent Adult Financial Abuse Unit (408) 792-2519 COUPLE SENTENCED ON CHARGES OF SWEETHEART SCAM OF AN ELDER, PSYCHIC SCAM April 27, 2012 – Following an investigation and prosecution by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, a San Jose couple were convicted for scamming an elderly man out of his life savings and a woman out of her retirement money. To do so, Shirley Stanley, 48, pretended to fall in love with the man and to exorcise the woman of her dead boyfriend’s evil spirit. Stanley and her common-law husband Anthony Costello, 43, were convicted of felony thefts and contracting without a license. Stanley was sentenced to five years in prison and Costello to one year in county jail with three years of probation. “These are illegal scams aimed at the weak and vulnerable of our community,’’ said Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard. “These scams are never about spirituality or love. They are about money.’’ The elderly San Jose victim of the classic “Sweetheart Scam” met Stanley in 2007. He was in poor health, had never been married and lived with his mother all of his life. She admired his car in a post office parking lot. Once Stanley gained his affections, she convinced him her young children needed cash for operations. In fact, they were healthy. Costello was introduced to the victim as Stanley’s brother. Although the victim did not know were she lived (with Costello and their two children) they became engaged. Stanley then conned the victim out of more than $200,000. The case was reported by a suspicious family member to DA Investigator Dennis Brookins and the Santa Clara County Financial Abuse Specialist Team (F.A.S.T.). Brookins was able to freeze the suspects’ bank accounts, preserving monies for restitution. The victim was paid back $236,000 in restitution. This investigation revealed another victim: a San Jose woman who, for the past three years, paid Costello more than $100,000 after Stanley claimed to have exorcised the evil spirit of her dead former boyfriend. As part of the scam, Stanley convinced the victim to buy high-end bottles of scotch, vodka, champagne and expensive perfume to be given to a church, in order to help her current boyfriend’s problem with alcoholism. Instead, the defendants kept them. Forced into bankruptcy, the victim was paid $43,000 in restitution, with an order for the remainder. Brookins also discovered that in 2008 Costello passed himself off as a licensed contractor, charging thousands for defective concrete patios. Two San Jose victims were reimbursed $13,300 and $2,300 respectively.