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Couple plead guilty to accident scams

Ryan Carter

A gypsy couple thought to be involved in a scam that staged

accidents to bilk money from the elderly have pleaded guilty to one

count of theft.

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Eric and Lori Barrel, both 36, from North Hollywood surrendered

at Burbank Superior Court on Monday.

Police believe the couple have been involved in at least five

faked traffic accidents in the Ralphs parking lot at 2600 Vic- tory

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Blvd. and the Pavilions lot at 1110 W. Alameda Ave. during the past

year.

They pleaded guilty to one count each of theft and agreed to pay

restitution to the victims, all elderly people from Burbank, police

said. Eric Barrell will spend five days in jail. His wife will spend

a day in jail.

“It’s a gypsy scam, where a person will run up to or attempt to

stop a vehicle, usually driven by an elderly person in a parking

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lot,” Police Det. Wally Schilling said. “Then, they’ll make a claim

like they caused his family member to fall and hurt her knee and that

they don’t have money for medical expenses.”

They then convinced the drivers to give them money for medical

treatment, police said.

Victims were duped out of $150 to $350 each time, Schilling said.

Descriptions of a blue and white van used in the scam led police

to the couple, who at one point lived in Glendale.

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“I absolutely believe there’s more victims because of the nature

of this scam -- they did it every day,” Schilling said.

Anyone who believes he or she was a victim of the couple, or has

information about the crimes, is asked to call detectives at

238-3000.


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