Dept. of Justice Announces Sentence of Man Involved in U.S.-Wide ‘Grandparent Scam’  

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PC: Getty images via bbc.com

By Vanguard Staff

WASHINGTON, DC – A “grandparent scam” that extorted as much as tens of thousands of dollars from a single victim led to the arrest and sentencing this week of Jack Owuor of Paramount, CA, to 46 months in prison, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

The DOJ said Owuor was part of a network of individuals who convinced older Americans throughout the U.S. to pay to allegedly “up to tens of thousands of dollars each to purportedly help their grandchild or other loved one.”

Owuor pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, according to a DOJ statement.

“Members of the network contacted elderly Americans by telephone and impersonated a grandchild, other close relative, or friend of the victim,” convincing “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,” said the DOJ.

“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,” the statement said.

“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will continue to pursue and prosecute groups that target elderly and vulnerable Americans through extortion, fraud, and impersonating their loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. 

He added, “We are grateful to our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and the FBI for their work to advance the department’s efforts against organized elder fraud, and to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.”

U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California said, “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.”

“Owuor and the criminal enterprise he was a part of preyed upon our elderly population, defrauding some of our most vulnerable and often most trusting citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office. 

Moy added, the “sentencing demonstrates the effectiveness of San Diego’s Elder Justice Task Force and the criminals we can stop when working in tandem with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who make up this collaborative team. This coordinated response is paramount to addressing elder fraud and the task force will continue to aggressively investigate those who operate these criminal enterprises and seek justice for the elderly victims they intend to exploit.”

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