Local Elder-Justice Task Force Premiers with Grandparent Nationwide Fraud-Scam Collab – Eight Indicted
SAN DIEGO – Elder Justice was front and center when eight were Indicted in a nationwide Grandparent
Fraud Scam – in the first case investigated by the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force (established in
February 2020.) Believed to be the first comprehensive law-enforcement effort for this purpose anywhere in the country – this is a collaboration between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the District Attorney’s Office and all San Diego County law enforcement agencies.
Agencies who jumped on board are the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, and the
San Diego Elder Justice Task Force – comprised of the San Diego FBI, San Diego County District
Attorney’s Office, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Carlsbad Police
Department, Oceanside Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Chula Vista Police
Department, El Cajon Police Department, La Mesa Police Department, National City Police Department,
and the Coronado Police Department.
The premier case, which commenced August 25th, laid out news of an unsealed federal grand jury indictment listing eight people charged. They’re accused of stealing millions of dollars from San Diego County and nationwide elderly victims, via a criminal enterprise.
Court Prosecutors’ statements declared that defendants fed their victims phony stories featuring their grandchildren, in terrible trouble – and needed money fast. More than $2 million was swindled from at least 10 elderly victims in San Diego County, along with the rest of the 70-plus victims nationwide.
Usually via scam phonecalls, while impersonating a grandchild or other person near or dear to the victim – the purported dire legal trouble was due to an accident or an arrest. The money was needed for bail, legal fees, or medical expenses.
Originating in San Diego with one victim and a small loss, the investigation grew exponentially. Victims were discovered locally in Coronado, El Cajon, Escondido, Carslbad, Bonita, and Santee.
Next, the investigation located additional nationwide victims across at least 15 states. Arrests were made on six of the eight defendants, all charged with violating the RICO racketeering statute.
Believed to be the first time RICO has been connected with an elder fraud case – allegations in the indictment pinpoint the organization’s involvement in hallmarks of organized crime: namely, extortion, fraud, and money laundering. Multiple actors, playing varying roles (the beloved relative, a lawyer, bail agents or medical professionals) provided victims with false case numbers, and instructed victims to lie to family, friends, and bank representatives and keep secret about money transfers or withdrawals.
Once the dispatched criminals received funds on location at the fearful and desperate-to-help elderly’s doorsteps – the scammers quickly transferred tens of thousands of dollars to members of the criminal conspiracy, awaiting to convert fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
These poseurs crafted elaborate schemes – employing false names, mail sent to rented residences, commercial carriers, ride-shares, and rental cars. Victims plunked down tens of thousands of dollars in what was described by the task force as “tremendous acts of selflessness,” exemplified with one defendant’s phone-message reveal to a co-conspirator: $33K in one day.
Summary of Charges: Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1962(d) – Conspiracy to Conduct or Participate in an Enterprise Through a Pattern of Racketeering Activity. Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison and a fine of not more than the greater of twice the amount of gain or loss associated with the offense or $250,000:
Case Number 21cr2216-CAB Defendants: Both Timothy Ingram, AKA Bleezy (29) of North Hollywood,
CA: and Anajah Gifford (23) also of North Hollywood were arrested in L.A. on 08/10/2021, and judge
denied bond. Jack Owuor (24) of Paramount, CA, arrested there, near L.A. on 08/11/2021, and judge
Out-of State defendants: Tracy Glinton (34) of Orlando, Florida, arrested there on 08/17/21, was released on bond. Joaquin Lopez (45) of Hollywood, FL arrested there on 08/18/21 – to be relased on bond. Lyda Harris (73) of Laveen, Arizona was arrested in Albania on a Provisional Arrest Warrant. United States is seeking extradition.
Two Florida Fugutives are outstanding: Tracy Adrine Knowles(29) of Orlando, and Adonis Alexis Butler Wong (29) of Pembroke Pines.
“Elder Fraud is a massive and growing problem as our county’s population gets older, with losses into the billions of dollars nationwide,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “The San Diego Elder Justice Task Force was set up to combine resources, experience, and capabilities to have a sophisticated and coordinated law enforcement response to fight this battle.”
“This first-of-its-kind Elder Justice Task Force leverages the power of collaboration and innovation to
effectively take down organized criminal rings that target the elderly in San Diego County and across the
nation,” said Summer Stephan, the San Diego County District Attorney. “The Task Force shares key
information, and actively works to connect those dots and reveal patterns that lead to successful prosecutions. We believe it will become a model for the rest of the nation on how to stop the billion-dollar criminal industry of elder fraud.”
For those who may be contacted in the future by sophisticated scammers who prey on the elderly: know
that law enforcement is here to help – and do not feel embarrassed or at-fault for being tricked and lured
into these sophisiticated criminal hoaxes. Please call your local law enforcement agency, sheriff, or FBI
(and always call 911 if there is an emergency.)