CLEVELAND — Two Florida men are facing federal charges for running a “grandparent” scheme that scammed elderly Northeast Ohio residents out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
John Tyler Pla and Johnny Lee Palmer, both 25 and from Tampa, Florida, are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities say that Pla and Palmer conspired together to “orchestrate a grandparent scam on elderly victims in Brecksville, Parma, Gates Mills, Lorain, Mansfield, Fairview Park, Westlake and Mentor.”
“Protecting our district’s elderly and vulnerable populations from scammers and fraudsters is an important part of the work we do every day at the Justice Department,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Manipulating and exploiting our district’s elderly in any way, for any reason, will be met with swift prosecution.”
The two allegedly called elderly residents and claimed they were a relative who needed bail money after being arrested, authorities said. They also pretended to be attorneys calling on behalf of a family member in jail.
The two would then arrange for a “courier” to meet the victim to pick up money. Authorities said the two rented a U-Haul to travel to their victim’s homes.
In total, elderly residents caught up in the scheme lost more than $383,000 between July 20 and Aug. 28.
"These scammers demonstrate the ever-increasing need to watch over and protect our elderly population,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “The FBI encourages everyone to educate their elderly family and friends on financial scams such as this. These two fraudsters played on the heartstrings of grandparents. Discussions prior to receiving a possible phone call from scammers can prevent your loved one from being a victim."
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