Prince George’s County police are searching for a woman who used three young children in an elaborate ruse to rob an 84-year-old woman of several thousand dollars last week, authorities said Wednesday.

The incident began about noon Thursday in the parking lot of Murry’s Steaks on New Hampshire Avenue, said Capt. Marc Alexander, an assistant commander in the Prince George’s County police’s District 1 station. That is where the woman, along with two young boys and an infant, approached the 84-year-old to ask for help cashing a check, Alexander said.

suspect surveillance photo (Courtesy Prince George's County Police)

“You try to help somebody, and then they turn around and mistreat you,” the 84-year-old woman said at a police news conference Wednesday. “We’re not stupid. We’re not dumb. We just try to help people.”

The 84-year-old woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she and police fear those involved could find her, said the woman told her the kids were her sister’s children, and they had not eaten in days. She said the children’s presence convinced her to help.

“If the children wouldn’t have been there, I would have never stopped,” she said.

Alexander said that after she was threatened, the 84-year-old did as she was told, going into the bank with the suspect and withdrawing several thousand dollars to hand over. When that was done, he said, the 84-year-old drove the woman back to Murry’s. She left on foot toward the District, and the 84-year-old eventually contacted police, Alexander said.

Alexander said police are still looking for the woman and another woman who she left the children with before she headed toward Bank of America. Police released a surveillance photo of the first woman on Wednesday.

Alexander said police are also exploring whether the incident might be connected to a similar one in the New Carrollton area months ago. In that case, he said, the suspect also targeted an elderly person to cash a check, but the suspect and victim were both men. He said it was too early to say whether the two incidents might have been perpetrated by the same group.