A California man was sentenced Wednesday to 46 months in prison for being involved in a large-scale “grandparent scam,” according to authorities.
According to court documents, Jack Owuor, 25, of Paramount, California, was part of a network of individuals who, through extortion and fraud, induced elderly Americans across the United States to pay up to tens of thousands of dollars each to purportedly help their grandchild or other loved one.
On March 9, 2022, Owuor pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Members of the network contacted elderly Americans by telephone and impersonated a grandchild, another close relative, or friend of the victim.
They falsely convinced the victims that their relatives or friends were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, for medical expenses for car accident victims, or to prevent additional charges from being filed, court documents indicate.
The defendants and their co-conspirators then received money from victims via various means, including in-person pickup, the mail, and wire transfer, and then laundered the proceeds, including through the use of cryptocurrency.
Owuor personally made cash pickups from numerous victims. Owuor also recruited and directed other members of the conspiracy.
“Today’s sentence, including prison time, demonstrates the gravity of the defendant’s egregious behavior to steal from the elders of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California. “It is despicable that these fraudsters preyed on a grandparent’s care and concern for their loved ones to line their own pockets. This important effort to bring these unscrupulous wrongdoers to justice helps protect victims and send the message that crime doesn’t pay.”
The FBI’s San Diego Field Office, North County Resident Agency investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Lauren M. Elfner and Wei Xiang of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Oleksandra Johnson for the Southern District of California prosecuted the case.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).