DA: 'Sweetheart scammer' targeted elderly in hate crime
The Bay Shore woman accused of fleecing at least two elderly men out of more than $500,000 in cash and vehicles served 7 months in jail on similar charges in Manhattan last year, prosecutors said yesterday.
An indictment against Lisa Ferkovich, believed to be 47 and called the "sweetheart scammer" by prosecutors, is expected to be unsealed Tuesday in Suffolk County on charges of second-degree grand larceny and grand larceny as a hate crime, said Suffolk District Attorney Thomas J. Spota. She is being held without bail.
Spota said it's the first time his office is alleging age as the basis for a hate crime. Spota said age is a protected class under the statute and similar cases have been prosecuted successfully in Queens.
"She targeted her victims because of her perception or belief that elderly people are easier to achieve," Spota said at a news conference.
Prosecutors said Ferkovich served time after a third-degree grand larceny conviction for conning an 89-year-old Manhattan man out of money.
Ferkovich's attorney, Marvin Hirsch of Mineola, disputed the current charges and said the men were "very cognizant of what's going on. There's no coercion." Hirsch said Ferkovich served jail time, but said the Manhattan case was "very different" and wouldn't elaborate.
Ferkovich, who used several aliases, is the defendant in a similar, pending case in Nassau and likely has more victims, prosecutors said. They said Ferkovich is part of a "traveler's" group of scammers based in Maryland, which her attorney disputed.
In 2011, Ferkovich went to the Northport home of Matthew Armstrong, 80, where she was introduced to him by a roof inspector there for a job. She became friends with Armstrong, and about a month later lured him to a Great Neck Mercedes-Benz dealership to buy her a car.
Ferkovich convinced Armstrong to finance the $48,000 car in his name, prosecutors said. She used his credit information to buy two new trucks and bilked him for more than $100,000, prosecutors said.
In a phone interview, Armstrong, a widower and retiree, described Ferkovich as cunning. "She said she had an interior decorating job in Atlantic City and she needed money to finish the job . . . I was gullible. I'm not senile or anything like that. I've got all my faculties. I was just a good-hearted guy trying to help her out."
Ferkovich was charged with identity theft and posted a $100,000 bond. Spota said they want to upgrade the charge.
Ferkovich met the subject of the pending indictment, an 83-year-old North Babylon man who could not be reached, in 2011 at a supermarket, prosecutors said. In a few months, he loaned her about $485,000. She also accumulated $35,000 in credit card debt.
Ferkovich was arrested Nov. 27 at her rented Brandish Lane home, where several other people lived. A few days later, "when the detective went back to the house, it was down to the studs," said Maureen McCormack, chief of the district attorney's Economic Crime Bureau.