Elderly couple conned
An elderly couple has been swindled out of more than US$420,000 by a woman pretending to be their granddaughter, in one of the largest such scams on record in the country, police said on Monday. The couple, in their 70s, received a call last month from a woman posing as their granddaughter and claiming she was in financial difficulty, Zurich police said in a statement. Over several weeks, the woman convinced the couple to hand over a total of 400,000 Swiss francs to a friend of hers, police said. The couple did not realize they had been duped until the middle of this month, when they contacted their granddaughter to ask why they hadn’t heard back from her, only to find out she had never asked them for any money. The couple then reported the scam to the police. Zurich police spokeswoman Judith Hoedl said these types of grandparent scams or emergency scams have long been a problem in the Swiss financial capital. “There were more of these cases 10 years ago ... The situation has improved some since we have tried to warn people of the danger,” she said.
Child abuser sentenced
A Togolese man who was convicted of forcing children to work as slaves at his Michigan home has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. US District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow also on Monday ordered Jean-Claude Toviave to pay two of the children US$60,000 each. Four victims last fall told jurors that Toviave forced them to perform household duties for nearly five years until January 2011 at the home in Ypsilanti. The four children emigrated from Togo in 2006 with fraudulent papers. They said Toviave beat them if they did not follow his orders. One says he prayed for freedom or death. Two of the victims were in the Detroit courtroom to hear the sentence.
Man killed in swing stunt
A 22-year-old man was killed trying to swing through the opening of a 33m tall sandstone arch in a stunt made so popular on YouTube that Utah authorities recently banned the activity by commercial outfitters. Kyle Lee Stocking left too much slack in the rope he was using, and it sent him crashing into the sandstone base of Corona Arch near Moab, Grand County sheriff’s officials said. He died on Sunday afternoon. Videos have bolstered the activity, which involves swinging wildly from ropes through arch and canyon openings. “People aren’t accepting nature for what it is. They have to put an element of excitement into it,” said John Weisheit, of Living Rivers, a local environmental group. “People see it on YouTube and then say, ‘That looks like fun.’”