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Man Accused Of Scamming Elderly Halifax Woman

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HALIFAX COUNTY, N.C. — The Rook family home dates back to the pre-Civil War years. The family owned a large parcel of farmland in the Thelma community, until 88-year-old Eugena Rook met Charles Tennent and allowed him to manage her money.

"He kept me in the dark," said Eugena Rook.

Tennent, 46, has now been charged with six counts of felony financial card fraud. Eugena Rook and her daughter Sandra told authorities Tennent sold himself as an expert on finances. They had trusted him with their bankcards and checks.

"We welcomed him," said Sandra Rook. "It seemed liked it satisfied a lot of needs. Meanwhile, he floundered away at the money and had a quite different attitude."

"He would give me a check and tell me he was going to write it for (someone) and ... for me to sign it, and I signed it no questions asked," said Eugena.

Authorities said Tennent moved into the home but kept the Rooks in the dark about where there money was going until it was gone.

"She looked over her financial records after he left and saw she didn't have any money at all," said Det. Chuck Hasty with the Halifax County Sheriff's Office. "He had about completely wiped her out."

The Rooks have had to sell a large piece of farmland to remedy their financial situation. But they've learned an even harder lesson -- don't trust your money to strangers.

Elder abuse is up nearly 15 percent from 1999, and financial attacks are one of its most common forms. In 2003, out of more than 500,000 reports of abuse, 15 percent were financial exploitation.

In addition to financial card fraud, Tennent was charged with possession of marijuana. He is out of jail on bond, but is due back in court next month.


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