A Long Island woman will be arraigned Tuesday on charges alleging she targeted elderly men with the intention of swindling their life savings, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a Monday news conference.
Lisa Ferkovich, 47, will be arraigned Dec. 16 on second-degree grand larceny charges. Prosecutors said a grand jury indicted her under a hate crimes statute, which could land her behind bars for 25 years.
Dubbed the “Sweetheart Scammer,” Ferkovich is alleged to have fleeced an 82-year-old Northport man, after befriending him in August 2011 when she visited his home with a roofing contractor, who she claimed was her brother.
“She gained, unbeknownst to him, more and more of his financial information,” Spota said. After about a month into the relationship, she allegedly convinced him to accompany her to a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Great Neck, where she was going to buy a new car.
Prosecutors said Ferkovich, who told the victim her name was Ruby Mitchell, was denied financing at the dealership and convinced the man to use his credit to pay for the $48,000 car. She later allegedly used his identity to buy a 2011 Dodge Ram and 2011 Ford F-150 pickup truck.
“To make matters worse, he gives her over $100,000 in the course of a few months,” Spota said. She was arrested and charged with identity theft, but Spota said additional charges will be presented to a grand jury.
“She targeted her victims because of her perception or belief that older people are more vulnerable, easier to deceive and more than likely will have significant assets,” Spota said.
Ferkovich’s case will be the first time Suffolk prosecutors have presented a hate crimes attachment to a larceny case, but Spota said there have been multiple convictions under the same statute in Queens.
An 83-year-old man from North Babylon was Ferkovich’s next victim, authorities said. She met him last July in a supermarket and allegedly seduced the man, telling him she had just started an interior decorating business and needed startup money.
Prosecutors said he gave her more than $485,000 in two months, while she racked up about $35,000 more in debt under his name.
“The only bond between them was that she was going to suck every penny she could out of this poor man,” Spota sad.
The victim’s son became wary and notified law enforcement. Authorities stopped payment on a $99,000 check, which Ferkovich was intending to cash, prosecutors said.
Ferkovich’s attorney, Marvin Hirsch, disputed the allegations and said the men made conscious choices to shower his client in gifts.
“I just don’t see the criminality,” he said. “It might not be pretty, but it’s not necessarily criminal.”
Ferkovich was arrested on Nov. 27 in front of a home she rented on Brandish Lane in Bay Shore. Maureen McCormack, chief of the DA’s Economic Crimes Bureau, said several other people also lived in the home, but when a detective returned just days after Ferkovich’s arrest, the house “was down to the studs.”