Eight indicted in grandparent fraud scam
Eight individuals were indicted on Wednesday in a scheme to extort money from elderly people by making them believe their grandchildren were in trouble, resulting in millions of dollars worth of payments.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the defendants were charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. According to prosecutors, they extorted over $2 million from more than 70 elderly individuals across the country.
Members allegedly impersonated a grandchild, relative or friend and told the victims that they needed money for bail, medical expenses or to prevent further charges from being filed against them. They used nicknames that their victims knew and impersonated attorneys to further their scheme, authorities said.
“These defendants were part of a large network of individuals that systematically targeted elderly Americans by preying on their concern for loved ones,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun Rao said in a statement.
The alleged perpetrators, six of whom have been arrested, were based in California and Florida, the DOJ said, adding that a slew of mules worked for them to transfer money from victims. The operation lasted from some time on or before Nov. 1, 2019, until Oct. 14, 2020, according to prosecutors.
“Elder Fraud is a massive and growing problem, as our county’s population gets older, with losses into the billions of dollars nationwide,” Suzanne Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego field office, said.
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