Federal authorities say 16 people have been charged in connection to a widespread "grandparent scam" that defrauded hundreds of elderly residents in several states out of millions of dollars.

Eleven men from the Dominican Republic are charged in a 19-count indictment with mail and wire fraud conspiracy; wire fraud; mail fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering; and money laundering:

  • 40-year-old Juan Rafael Parra Arias
  • 39-year-old Nefy Vladimir Parra Arias
  • 35-year-old Nelson Rafael Gonzalez Acevedo
  • 59-year-old Rafael Ambiorix Rodriguez Guzman
  • 41-year-old Miguel Angel Fortuna Solano
  • 36-year-old Felix Samuel Reynoso Ventura
  • 45-year-old Carlos Javier Estevez
  • 27-year-old Louis Junior Serrano Rodriguez
  • 24-year-old Miguel Angel Vasquez
  • 45-year-old Jovanni Antonio Rosario Garcia
  • 34-year-old Jose Ismael Dilone Rodriguez

Another five people were charged with wire fraud conspiracy as part of the same scheme:

  • 21-year-old Endy Jose Torres Moran of Brooklyn, NY
  • 32-year-old Ivan Alexander Inoa Suero of Bronx, NY
  • 43-year-old Jhonny Cepeda of New York
  • 27-year-old Ramon Hurtado of New York
  • 21-year-old Yuleisy Roque of Bronx, NY

According to officials, Juan Rafael Parra Arias, Nefy Vladimir Parra Arrias, and Gonzalez Acevedo operated a sophisticated network of call centers in the Dominican Republic.

Their alleged victims included elderly residents of several states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The call centers victimized hundreds of Americans through fraud, stealing millions of dollars.

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Members of the conspiracy, referred to as “openers,” called elderly victims in the United States and impersonated the victims’ children, grandchildren, or other close relatives. The call centers used technology to make it appear that the calls were coming from inside the United States. Typically, the victim was told that their grandchild had been in a car accident, was arrested as a result of the accident, and needed help.

Once openers duped victims into believing their loved ones were in trouble, others working at the call centers, known as “closers,” impersonated defense attorneys, police officers, or court personnel and convinced victims to provide thousands of dollars in cash to help their loved ones.

The "closers" typically told victims to give the cash to couriers who they sent to victims’ homes to collect their money. Other times, closers instructed victims to send the cash by mail.

U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in a statement,

As alleged, these 16 defendants preyed upon grandparents’ familial love and devotion, cheating them out of millions of dollars. In this ‘grandparents’ scam,’ the defendants allegedly impersonated grandchildren in distress, claiming, for example, they had been arrested after a car accident involving a pregnant woman who later miscarried, and they needed immediate cash for bail or a lawyer. The panic-stricken grandparents quickly paid—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.

Potential Prison Time

Each of the charges in the indictment and complaint carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Each of the mail and wire fraud charges also carries a potential fine of up to $250,000. Money laundering charges also carry a potential fine of up to $500,000.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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