Family dismayed after elderly father falls for church scam

Thomas Ingram
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The soft heart of 74-year-old Thomas Ingram of Indianapolis has taught him a hard lesson.

Last Friday, Ingram drove to the East 16th Street Dollar General Store to shop. He says when he exited the store, a man who walked across the parking lot approached him for a donation. Ingram says the man presented himself as a pastor, but said his church had burned down, and he needed money to rebuild.

"I am an easy person to give into somebody. I gave him the money. He said, 'Okay, Mr. Ingram, I thank you, see you later,' and that was it," said Ingram.

Ingram drove the unidentified man to the Brightwood-area PNC Bank and withdrew $1,500 from his savings account. His daughter Kimberly Landers says that was pretty much his life savings.

 "Now my dad has no money to pay his bills, which I have to oversee for him at that age. That was all of his money and now his account is practically empty," she said.

Ingram is a widower who recently lost his wife. He is also still mourning the death of one of his daughters who passed away seven months ago.

Now his other two daughters serve as his caregivers. They never expected anything like this to happen.

LaTonya Ingram said, "We just this want this person stopped because if not, they are going to keep on doing it and do it somebody else."

Right now they are keeping their fingers crossed about security cameras outside the store and the cameras at the PNC bank drive-thru. Eyewitness News did some digging and learned that the bank's cameras recorded the man in the passenger seat of Ingram's car at the time of the withdrawal.

The teller questioned Ingram about the withdrawal but when he talked briefly with his passenger, the teller assumed it was a family member.

Metro Police Sgt. Linda Jackson has requested a copy of the PNC security footage, but the bank requires paperwork and will not release the image for another five to seven days.

LaTonya Ingram says unfortunately because there were no signs of criminal intent during the withdrawal, PNC Bank told her they will not replace the stolen money to her father.

"I told my father we are in a bind and if there is a financial emergency, I don't know what we will do since your savings is all gone," said LaTonya Ingram.

Ingram told Eyewitness News that eventually he dropped off the man at the same Dollar General Store after he handed him the money.

"That is when I realized he did not tell me his name, the name of the church, where it was located when it burned down, or nothing, he was just gone," said Ingram.

Ingram's daughters will no longer allow their father to bank alone. They also plan to talk to him about never giving strangers a ride in his car. They hope other people with elderly family members will have the same conversation to keep them from being scammed out of their life savings.

They have not given up on someone calling the Crime Stoppers Hot Line at 317-262-TIPS with information on who may have taken their father's money with a burned-down church sob story.