International Fraud Ring Targets Elderly Victims, Robbing Them of $11 Million
A recently unsealed federal indictment has brought accusations against seven individuals involved in an international crime ring that defrauded $11 million from 50 victims across West Michigan and the entire nation, with the majority being elderly individuals, reports The Centre Square. According to the indictment, the conspiracy involved victims receiving computer pop-ups claiming their devices were infected by a virus. The pop-ups provided a phone number to resolve the alleged problem, which connected them to scammers in India running multiple fraudulent schemes.
The scam and the people behind it
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Mark Totten, expressed appreciation for the charges filed against this criminal network. He emphasized the severity of elder fraud schemes as they exploit some of the most vulnerable members of society. Totten stressed the importance of raising awareness so as to safeguard older individuals from falling victim to such crimes. He assured the community of his office's dedication to combatting all forms of elder abuse.
The following individuals have been implicated in the alleged conspiracy of collecting fraud proceeds from victims: Pragneshbhai M. Patel (51), Vijaya C. Shetty (52), and Jayesh J. Panchal (54) from New York; Everett Jhmal Thibou (30), Jmyla Elaine Sha’taria White (28), and Jorrel Tyler Jackson (31) from Florida; and Mckhaela Katelynn McNamara (27) from Flint.
How the scam took place
In one scam, victims were told their bank accounts were compromised and they were instructed to withdraw all their money, which they were then asked to hand over to fake 'Federal agents' for safekeeping. Another scam involved convincing victims that they were part of a criminal investigation and that they needed to hand over money to clear their names. The alleged scams resulted in the theft of $11 million, primarily from elderly individuals. The money was obtained through various means, including in-person meetings with fake 'Federal agents,' sending boxes of cash to addresses provided by the scammers, wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the scammers, or through gift cards purchased by the victims as instructed.
The indictment also alleges that Panchal and McNamara made six trips to meet with a victim in Lake County, Michigan, collecting $398,000 in fraud proceeds. The victim believed her bank accounts were compromised and was providing cash to the supposed 'Federal agents' for safekeeping. Thibou is accused of assisting in arranging meetings with the Lake County victim.
Also Read: Gift Card Scams You Should Be Aware Of
FBI's commitment to protecting older Americans
Earlier this year, two alleged members of the conspiracy were arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in India, with investigative assistance provided by the FBI's Legal Attaché New Delhi. Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Detroit Field Office, Devin J. Kowalski, emphasized the FBI's commitment, along with its partners, to protect older Americans from financial scams. According to the FBI's 2022 Elder Fraud Report, a staggering 88,262 people over the age of 60 were victimized in 2022, leading to a total loss of $3.1 billion, representing an 84% increase from 2021. Among the most common types of fraud reported were tech support and customer service schemes.
To combat elder fraud and assist potential victims, the FBI encourages individuals who suspect they or someone they know may have fallen victim to such scams to submit tips to the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).
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