A homeless man who police say claimed to be an attorney and preyed on area churches with the promise of receiving cash from a will has been indicted on a third-degree felony theft charge.
George Wesley Moore Jr., 63, was arrested Wednesday after being indicted last week on a charge of theft of between $1,500 and $20,000 charge. Typically a state-jail felony, the charge has been enhanced to a third-degree punishable by up to 10 years in prison because the alleged victim in the case is elderly, officials said.
In all, Fort Worth police say Moore scammed 17 victims of almost $13,000 over the past few years by contacting area churches, oftentimes identifying himself as an attorney named Dan Reed.
Detective A.L. Fincher said Moore was apparently using the name of a real attorney who had previously represented him.
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In the phone calls, police say the “attorney” claimed to be representing a man, Larry Wainwright, whose mother had recently died and left money to the church in her will because the church had previously helped or prayed for her.
But Wainwright, church employees were told by the “attorney,” had fallen on hard times, had cancer and couldn’t afford his medication, food or rent.
The church employee was then given Wainwright’s number and encouraged to lend the ill man money until the will could be probated and the money repaid. Police believe Moore would later meet with the church victims to pick up the money, pretending to be Wainwright.
Fincher said that while some gave money from their church funds, “we have had several that gave him their own money.”
“They took pity on him because the church wasn’t able to for whatever reason,” Fincher said. “It was either against their policy or they didn’t have it available at the time.”
The case for which Moore was indicted involved a 70-year-old Fort Worth man who was scammed of $2,900 out of his own pocket.
Police began investigating the case after the 70-year-old victim filed a police report at the urging of a relative.
“To … just hand somebody some money, a lot of people wouldn’t do something like that. They’d never even give it a second thought. They’d tell this guy to fly a kite,” the 70-year-old man told the Star-Telegram in an August article about the alleged scam. “But if I think it’s legitimate, the need is sincere, then I’ll do something.”
Moore, Tarrant County court records show, has multiple convictions for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and passing forged checks dating back to 1981.
Fincher said Moore was apparently living in a shed with others in a fenced lot off Galveston Avenue when he was located by investigators Wednesday and arrested.
He was booked into the Tarrant County Jail on the theft charge with bail set at $25,000. In addition, he is being held without bond on a parole violation warrant, jail records show.