The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that eight individuals have been indicted in California after extorting nearly $2 million dollars from elderly grandparents.
According to Fox News, a federal grand jury recently charged eight fraudsters with conspiracy under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The suspects, who are from California, Arizona and Florida, aged from 23 to 70, used extortion and fraud to trick elderly victims over telephone calls into believing their grandchildren needed their financial help to post bail, pay victims of a car crash or get out of other legal trouble.
Suspects “induced elderly Americans across the United States to pay thousands to tens of thousands of dollars each to purportedly help their grandchild or other close family relatives,” officials said.
According to the article published on Aug. 26, the scammers made at least $2 million dollars from victims by pretending to be their grandchild or someone connected to their grandchild. After receiving the money, the criminals laundered it using cryptocurrency.
“They falsely convinced the victims that their relatives were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, medical expenses for car accident victims, or to prevent additional charges from being filed,” DOJ officials said.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun Rao with the Justice Department’s Civil Division stated that the defendants were part of a larger network.
“These defendants were part of a large network of individuals that systematically targeted elderly Americans by preying on their concern for loved ones,” he said. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting individuals who take part in such schemes that target vulnerable people.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California added that the scheme left lasting damage to victims, and warned against elder fraud.
“This scheme has left many elderly victims financially and emotionally devastated,” he said. “It is unconscionable to target the elderly and exploit their love for their grandchildren. Elder fraud is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. We are committed to combating all types of elder abuse in our community.”
The DOJ stated that a handful of federal and local law enforcement agencies cooperated in the investigation.