Two women were sentenced in federal court on Thursday for their roles in a large-scale “grandparent scam” racketeering conspiracy.
Anajah Gifford, 24, of North Hollywood, and Tracy Glinton, 35, of Orlando, were sentenced for their roles in a nationwide scam that swindled over $2 million from more than 70 senior citizens. At least 10 elderly victims who resided in San Diego County lost over $300,000 to the fraud.
“Because seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for financial fraud crimes, the FBI and our law enforcement partners have prioritized our efforts to address elder fraud,” said Stacey Moy, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Diego Division. “Using such deceitful tactics bilk hard-earned money from aging victims – leaving so many financially devasted in their retirement years without recourse for recovery.”
The crimes took place between Nov.1, 2019 and Oct. 14, 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Members of the enterprise targeted victims by telling them their grandchildren were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, medical expenses for car accidents, or prevent additional charges from being filed.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, members of the conspiracy and their associates obtained money from victims through in-person cash pick-ups, by mail or commercial carriers, or via wire transfers. Conspirators laundered the proceeds by transferring the funds or converting from fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
Gifford admitted that she conducted cash pick-ups from victims under codefendant Timothy Ingram’s direction as a part of her plea agreement. She also admitted to helping Ingram pay unlawful proceeds to codefendant Tracy Knowles.
Alongside Ingram, Gifford recruited and coordinated money mules in California. She was ordered to forfeit $52,750 in proceeds she received from the offense and to pay $1,235,406.93 to the victims in restitution.
According to court documents, Glinton’s primary role was to help codefendant Tracy Knowles receive proceeds from coconspirators who obtained victim funds. As a part of her plea agreement, Glinton admitted that she knew the money she received constituted proceeds of grandparent scams.
A San Diego federal judge ordered Glinton to forfeit $9,950 in proceeds she received from the crimes and to pay $71,600 to the victims in restitution.
The U.S. Attorney’s office notes that Ingram was previously sentenced to 108 months; Knowles remains at large. Six of the eight defendants charged in the case pleaded guilty, but two are fugitives and remain at large.
“We encourage anyone who believes they are a victim of fraud or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, to immediately report the incident to the FBI or another law enforcement agency,” Moy said.