When insurance firms launched social media initiatives, the results were rewarding.
A Danville insurance agent is facing charges that he scammed two local elderly women out of $40,000.
Paul J. Cero, 63, is charged with two felony counts of theft by deception. He was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Rodney Hartman and released after posting $150,000 bail.
Police launched an investigation in April 2012 after one of the victims contacted authorities, according to New Holland police Lt. Jonathan Heisse.
Cero was a licensed insurance agent in late 2009 when he convinced an 81-year-old Earl Township woman to cash out a $20,000 annuity and invest the money in an account that would give her high returns, according to charging documents.
He drove her to Susquehanna Bank, 695 W. Main St., in Earl Township, where she cashed the check. Cero then directed her to wire the money to an account in Nevada, the documents state.
In early 2012, Cero gave the woman two cash payments totaling $1,100 but she has received no money since then, she told authorities.
The woman said she phoned Cero numerous times but he wouldn't return her calls. He did call her one time and told her the investors were "tough guys and the FBI is involved," Heisse wrote in the affidavit.
During an interview earlier this year with Heisse, the woman said she has not seen Cero since February 2010.
In February of this year, Heisse said he was contacted by a state insurance investigator who said a second victim had been discovered in the New Holland area.
As in the first case, the woman was convinced by Cero - her insurance agent - to cash in her $20,000 annuity and invest the money in what he told her was a high-yield account, according to the affidavit.
He drove her to Fulton Bank, 696 E. Main St., and had her wire the money to a Nevada account.
The 81-year-old Honey Brook woman said she began phoning Cero when she failed to receive the monthly checks he promised.
He made several excuses regarding the money before he stopped answering her calls, according to the affidavit. The woman said she's never received any money from the investment.
Police said an investigation revealed the account to which the money was wired is now closed.