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An Alpine man is accused of scamming an 88-year-old St. George widow out of $100,000, and investigators say there may be more victims.

According to charges filed this week in Washington County, the 47-year-old man and his wife went, unannounced, to the victim's St. George home last April after his wife had met the victim at a health expo. The man offered a $70,000 investment to the woman, saying it would be used to make small loans to businesses and individuals. He allegedly promised a 14 percent return along with a monthly payment of $875 and a $15,000 bonus. She provided a cashier's check for $70,000.

The man did not mention he was facing debt collection and had been evicted from his home, investigators wrote. Bank records show the money never was loaned; instead it stayed in the man's personal bank account until he spent it on himself and his family, investigators wrote.

In September, while the victim was on medication for a broken hip, the man told the victim that he was being investigated, according to charges. He told her "she opened her big mouth" and caused problems by telling an acquaintance about her investment, investigators wrote. He allegedly said the state Division of Securities had put him out of business and confiscated his money, that he couldn't feed his family, that he would have to rely on help from his church and the state, and it was all her fault.

"Feeling pressured and guilty, she wrote out a check for $25,000," investigators wrote. The man then put the victim into his car and drove to her credit union, where she withdrew another $5,000 for him, investigators wrote. He then allegedly gave her $875 of her own money as payment for her $70,000 investment.

In fact, the Division of Securities had not taken any action against the man or seized any assets at that time, investigators wrote.

The man is charged with securities fraud and communications fraud, second-degree felonies, and misdemeanor theft.

Those that think they or their family members may be victims are encouraged to contact the Utah Division of Securities at 801-530-6936.

Twitter: @erinalberty

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