Scam organization aimed at defrauding grandparents finally shut down via the RICO Act

Last Updated: March 8, 2024By Tags: , ,

It’s bad enough to target anyone with the decades old scam of posing as a friend or loved one (via text or email), supposedly stranded in a foreign country or in jail and pleading for money, but it’s the height of heartlessness to specifically target grandparents, particularly senior citizens. One such scam operation profited from this specific cruelty, to the tune of $2 million, bilking more than 70 older Americans. A federal judge called the scam, “Heartbreakingly evil.”

Fortunately, the law caught up with the leader of the organization, Timothy Ingram, who was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for stealing that $2 million (which included $300,000 from ten San Diego residents). Ingram was also ordered to reimburse the victims — not soon enough though. Another partner-in-crime involved in this particular scheme, Jack Owuor, was sentenced to nearly four years in August 2022 and was ordered to repay $434,600 to victims.

Randy Grossman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, said in a statement, “It is despicable that these fraudsters preyed on a grandparent’s care and concern for their loved ones to line their own pockets.”

A collaboration of federal and local law enforcement agencies, The San Diego Elder Justice Task Force, investigated the perpetrators of this especially cruel scheme. This may be the first time that scammers of this ilk have been convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act aimed at busting up criminal gangs, according to prosecutors in San Diego.

Using the RICO Act could greatly aid law enforcement in prosecuting fraudsters in elder fraud cases. “It’s a powerful statute,” says Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton. “It allows you to go after all the participants in a conspiracy, and there are some pretty significant penalties.”

From the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice website:

Scammers Use Fake Emergencies to Steal Your Money

Someone calls or contacts you saying they’re a family member or close friend. They say they need money to get out of trouble. Not so fast. Is there really an emergency? Is that really your family or friend calling? It could be a scammer.

Click here to learn more from the FTC website.

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