May 30, 2017
A Washington County man is facing multiple charges after investigators determined he allegedly convinced a Lancaster woman that the mafia would retaliate against her if she refused to funnel money into a fraudulent investment scheme, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Yancey Taylor, 45, of Donora, extorted $159,000 from a 69-year-old woman who was led to believe she was participating in a reliable "investment" opportunity.
The victim, a lifelong educator, first met Taylor in 2012 after a renting a home to him in Westmoreland County. Taylor allegedly gained the victim's trust by helping her recover funds owed to her by a previous tenant.
When Taylor told the victim of the opportunity to invest with a guaranteed return, she began turning over chunks of money in installments of $3,000 and $4,000, with amounts increasing over time. Taylor eventually told the victim that she would begin to lose money unless she continued to provide it. In June 2013, prosecutors said the victim gave Taylor $18,000 over a five-day period.
At one point, Taylor told the victim that her investment had accrued "fees" that were owed to an unnamed figure known as "the Boss," who was supposedly connected to the mafia.
Over time, as the victim grew suspicious of the investment scheme, she began receiving threatening phone calls from people who instructed her to continue giving money to Taylor. She ultimately took out loans against her home and liquidated her life savings, including an IRA.
Taylor, according to prosecutors, used the money he received from the victim to gamble at various casinos across Pennsylvania.
“This scam artist preyed on an elderly woman and stole her life savings,” Shapiro said in a statement. “He came into her life, gained her trust, and then abused that trust to fuel his own greed and gambling habit. We will not tolerate those who scam our seniors. We’re here to protect them.”
Taylor is charged with theft by deception and theft by extortion, both second-degree felony counts carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.