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Elderly Americans scammed out of millions by foreigners posing as grandchildren

Scammers in the Dominican Republic made a total of $35 million by pretending to be grandchildren or relatives of elderly victims and claiming they were in dire straits and needed bail money and legal fees, Homeland Security said. Announced by the Ministry of Security.

Before the 16 scammers were indicted in a 19-count indictment, they were said to have imprisoned nearly 5,000 victims between the ages of 72 and 93 in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. New Jersey District Attorney Philip Selinger said at a press conference. Tuesday’s press conference.

“Grandparent scams usually go something like this: The phone rings and the caller claims to be the victim of a car accident or a relative in distress, usually a grandchild. [who] Mr. Sellinger said, “I’ve been arrested. I need the money right away.” Concerned, the grandparents took action. They would do anything for their grandchildren, no matter the cost. But it was all a scam. Yes, and once a grandparent hands over cash, it is almost always gone forever.”

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Sixteen scammers in the Dominican Republic scammed thousands of elderly victims out of a total of $35 million by posing as grandchildren or relatives in need of bail money or other emergencies, according to the Department of Homeland Security. . (Fox News)

“According to the video recovered during the investigation, [one of the scammers] A caller pretending to be the victim’s grandson. In the video, the co-conspirator pretends to yell into the phone, “Grandma, I love you and I trust you more than anyone,” Selinger said.

“Fake sobbing, the co-conspirator goes on to say, “Tell Grandpa I love you,” and, pretending to hold back tears, tells the victim to follow his lawyer’s instructions. “Just do whatever I say at the bank.” ”’ he said. he continued.

In another example, an 87-year-old woman nearly gave thousands of dollars to a scammer who posed as her sister’s grandson and claimed to be in desperate need of bail money after his arrest. In this case, the Department of Homeland Security’s New York El Dorado Task Force Cyber ​​Intrusion Group intervened before any money was exchanged.

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An example of a scammer pretending to be the victim’s grandchild claiming to have hit a pregnant woman in a car accident, or another scammer calling the victim and demanding more money claiming that the pregnant woman had a miscarriage. There was also.

Once a scammer poses as a relative and convinces an elderly victim, a second person known as a “closer” will call them pretending to be a defense attorney, police officer or court official, offering to pay an unbelievable fee. Request and pick up from the victim’s home, usually through a local courier. .

Eleven men from the Dominican Republic were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering. Nefi “Keko” Vladimir Parra Arias, 39 years old. Nelson “Nelson Tech” Refael Gonzalez Acevedo, 35 years old. Rafael “Max Morgan” Ambiorix Rodriguez Guzman, 59 years old. Miguel “Botiga” Angel Fortuna Solano, 41 years old. Felix “Philly the Kid” Samuel Reynoso Venture, 37 years old. Carlos Javier Estevez, 45 years old. Luis “Junior” Rodriguez Serrano, 27 years old. Miguel “Disla” Angel Vazquez, 24 years old. Giovanni “Pokey” Antonio Rosario Garcia, 45 years old. and Jose Ismael Dilone Rodriguez, 34.

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They worked at a series of call centers around Santiago de los Caballeros, according to the indictment.

Five other defendants, who resided in New York City and operated as cash couriers, were also charged with wire fraud conspiracy. Ivan Alexander Inoa Suerol, 32 years old. Johnny Cepada, 27 years old. Ramon Hurtado, 43 years old. and Yureisy Roque (21).

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“These charges underscore law enforcement’s commitment to protecting seniors from fraudsters and financial exploitation,” New York City Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban said in a press release. “The crimes outlined here are truly depraved in nature, targeting our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others in an attempt to extort their hard-earned savings. “I commend the NYPD investigators and all federal partners involved for their tireless dedication to our shared public safety mission.” it was done. ”

If you or someone you know is 60 or older and has been scammed, call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11.

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