VANCOUVER - An accused fraudster who was featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" over allegations he travelled the country defrauding seniors has been arrested in Vancouver.
Sgt. Randy Fincham of Vancouver police said 57-year-old Richard Earl Rupert, the so-called "Nephew Bandit," was taken into custody on Wednesday after evading capture for more than five years.
Fincham said the man, who "stayed one step ahead of police" by constantly criss-crossing through B.C. and Canada, was arrested at a local hospital where he had been receiving medical treatment under the false name Jerry Whitehead.
"He was identified by an alert hospital staff member who recognized him from a mug shot photograph," Fincham said Thursday. "That staff member then notified police, and police attended the hospital."
Rupert is accused of scamming elderly people — many of whom have mobility issues —by convincing them to hand over large amounts of money after promising to repay the loan, Fincham said. Rupert made a brief court appearance Thursday afternoon and remains in custody.
"What he did is he became friends with them, he pretended to be a distant relative, he gained a certain amount of trust from these people, and either conned them out of money or he received money willingly from their bank accounts," he said.
"Or at times, he stole money or valuables inside their houses," Fincham said of the man who remains in custody while he awaits a court appearance.
Fincham did not disclose how much money Rupert allegedly obtained from his victims or the name of the hospital where the man was arrested.
Rupert, whose alleged crimes were also featured on the TV show "W5," is wanted on 18 warrants in B.C., Alberta and Ontario related to charges of fraud, robbery, and break and enter.
Fincham said investigators will also be looking into whether Rupert committed other offences, including any that may have occurred in the U.S.
"This person has a pattern of having very elusive behaviour, where he managed to change his name, change his identity, and move from city to city and province to province within Canada to avoid being captured by the police," he said.
"There is a possibility that prior to this man coming onto our radar and our investigation starting, that he may have committed other offences, and that is something we'll look at."
In April, Langley RCMP in Metro Vancouver issued an arrest warrant after Rupert allegedly approached an elderly woman walking out of a grocery store and told her he was the son of a family friend.
Mounties said Rupert convinced the woman that he needed money to fix his car and went with her to a bank, where she withdrew "a large sum of cash" and gave it to him.
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