Woman accused of fleecing locals for $300,000

Published 1:26 pm Friday, June 17, 2011

A woman who is accused of fleecing more than $300,000 from at least seven Vicksburg victims was in the Warren County Jail this morning, and authorities were working to confirm her identity and locate others who might have been scammed, said Sheriff Martin Pace.

The woman has been identified as Deborah Rogers-Shackleford, 58, but has used other names, Pace said. Deputies were checking a photo-bearing Florida driver’s license with her name on it to try to determine its legitimacy, he said.

Rogers-Shackleford, who is homeless and has been living in Vicksburg motels since April 2010, is being held on a $210,000 bond, but Pace said he would not approve any release from the jail until her identify is confirmed.

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Her “textbook case” scam convinced victims — who include a retired city worker, a current state employee and local business people — to turn over cash from their savings and retirement accounts, said the sheriff. In addition, they have paid for her motel rooms, bought her meals and paid for other expenses for the woman, Pace said.

“It’s tragic that people have fallen for this, but they have,” he said. “They believed her lies, her stories.”

“She’s very, very good at what she does,” said lead investigator Chris Satcher.

Rogers-Shackleford told her victims that she was set to receive a multimillion-dollar settlement following a lawsuit over an auto accident, but before she could get the windfall, she needed money to pay the lawyers, Pace said. If the people helped her, she would essentially “make them wealthy,” he said.

“This is a very typical scam, where essentially she got people to support her financially, and the victims believed they were going to get something for nothing,” said Pace.

Nothing the woman told her victims was true, Pace said. “There was no wreck, no lawsuit, no law firm. It was all just a scam.”

The seven victims, all Vicksburg residents, identified so far turned over amounts totaling $3,000, $7,000, $100,000-plus, $8,600, $90,000, $12,800 and $70,000, Pace said.

“At least one of these victims closed out their entire retirement program and handed it over to her,” the sheriff said. “We are looking at a ballpark figure of $300,000 at this time but we are certain it’s going to be more than that.”

Pace said investigators planned to interview another possible victim today. Satcher said investigators believe there are at least five more victims.

Pace and two deputies arrested Rogers-Shackleford at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday in room 124 at the Best Western, 2445 N. Frontage Road, following an investigation that began just over a week ago when a victim contacted the sheriff, he said.

One of her victims had been able to tell authorities where Rogers-Shackleford was staying, he said.

Pace said many of the victims know each other.

None of the money has been recovered, he said.

“A major part of our investigation continues to be where the money has gone,” he said. “There appears to be a lot of gambling activity involved.”