(STL.News) – David Green, age 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal mail fraud conspiracy charge, in connection with a scheme in which he defrauded more than 28 elderly victims of more than $939,000.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“Schemes where fraudsters falsely claim that a family member needs money to pay legal or other expenses—sometimes pretending to be the victim’s relative to convince them to send cash—prey on vulnerable and elderly victims,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who perpetrate these heartless schemes that target elderly victims. I encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim of financial fraud to contact the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”
According to Green’s plea agreement, from about September 2018 through at least December 2019, he was part of a conspiracy to defraud elderly victims by persuading them to send thousands of dollars in cash to members of the conspiracy by falsely stating that the money would be used to help the victims’ relatives pay legal or other expenses in connection with crimes and other incidents that had not occurred or that the money would be sent to particular individuals at their addresses, rather than to members of the conspiracy falsely claiming to reside at those addresses. Green’s co-conspirators telephoned elderly victims throughout the United States, posing as a police officer, lawyer, or other individual, falsely telling the victim that a relative, typically the victim’s grandchild, had been incarcerated in connection with a car accident or traffic stop involving a crime, and needed money—often tens of thousands of dollars—for bail, legal fees, and other expenses.
As detailed in the plea agreement, during the telephone calls, the co-conspirators directed victims to send cash to a particular address via an overnight delivery service. The co-conspirators allegedly even posed as the victims’ relatives to further induce them to send the cash. Once the victims did send money, the co-conspirators called the victims asking for more cash, regularly obtaining tens of thousands of dollars from the retirement savings of victims. To prevent the victims from sharing the information with anyone, the co-conspirators allegedly told the victims that a “gag order” had been placed on the case requiring secrecy, or that the situation was embarrassing for the grandchild and they didn’t want anyone else to know about it.
Green admitted that, in order to conceal the crime, he and other co-conspirators identified residential locations across the country where the cash should be sent, including in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Florida. Green and his co-conspirators identified locations that were either vacant or for sale, so that no one would be at those locations at the time of the deliveries, then retrieved the packages of cash when they were delivered. Green and other co-conspirators recruited and instructed additional people to assist in retrieving packages of cash from specified locations.
For example, in January 2019 Green and another co-conspirator flew from Florida to the Maryland area, for the purpose of retrieving packages containing fraud proceeds.
On January 7, 2019, Victim #4, 91 years old from Bainbridge Island, Washington, received a phone call from a co-conspirator who told the victim that his grandson was a passenger in a vehicle stopped with large amounts of cocaine and was being held on federal drug charges. The individual directed Victim #4 to send $13,000 cash for bail to an address in Baltimore, Maryland. On January 8, 2019, Green sent text messages to another co-conspirator with information about the package from Victim #4, including the tracking number. He further directed the other co-conspirator that the package required a signature upon delivery. The other co-conspirator collected the package, and falsely stated that he was the intended recipient. At the further direction of a co-conspirator, Victim #4 sent an additional $9,000 for the purported purpose of retaining an attorney.
Also in January 2019, Victim #5, an 89 year old from Westland, Michigan, was contacted by an individual representing himself to be “Officer Booth.” This individual told Victim #5 that her grandson had been in a car accident and that drugs were found in the trunk. At the direction of the caller, on January 14, 2019, Victim #5 sent $8,000 in cash to an address in Baltimore via FedEx. In total, Victim #5 lost $30,000 to the scam.
In January 2019, Victim #6, an 89 year old from Fort Pierce, Florida, received a phone call from someone purporting to be Victim #6’s niece. Victim #6 was told that his niece had been in a car accident. At the instruction of the caller, Victim #6 sent $8,000 in cash to an address in Baltimore via UPS. On January 18, 2019, Green retrieved this package along with another co-conspirator. In total, Victim #6 lost $17,500 to the scam.
On March 26, 2019, Green was arrested by New Castle County Police in Delaware while trying to retrieve a package sent from another victim to a location in Newark, Delaware.
As a result of the execution of the scheme to defraud, between September 2018 and March 2019, Green and his co-conspirators caused at least 28 different victims to send a total of at least $939,300, resulting in substantial financial hardship to between five and 24 of the victims.
Green faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud conspiracy. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for March 26, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.
Co-defendant McArnold Charlemagne, age 33, of Miramar, Florida, pleaded guilty to the same charge on October 30, 2020, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, 2021, at 1:00 p.m.
The Department of Justice has an interactive tool for elders who have been financially exploited to help determine to which agency they should report their incident, and also a senior scam alert website. Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at this website or by calling 1-800-225-5324. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.