A man who pleads guilty is taking part in a nationwide racketeering scheme targeting the elderly that took more than $300,000 from 10 elderly victims in San Diego County.
Jack Owuor, 25, of Paramount, California was sentenced in federal court to 46 months in prison for partaking in swindling more than $2 million from 70-plus elderly victims in a nationwide scheme. Authorities said Owuor picked up $33,000 in cash from three different victims in a single day.
Seven others were found guilty of participating in the nationwide scheme from approximately November 1, 2019, until October 14, 2020, targeting elderly Americans. Owuor is the first defendant in the case to be sentenced.
Federal prosecutors said the perpetrators contacted elderly Americans by phone under the guise their grandchildren were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, pay medical expenses for car accident victims, or prevent additional charges from being filed.
They would then obtain money from their victims through in-person cash pick-ups, by mail, commercial carriers, or via wire transfers.
Conspirators laundered the proceeds by transferring the funds or converting from fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
“Today’s sentence, including prison time, demonstrates the gravity of the defendant’s egregious behavior to steal from the elders of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “It is despicable that these fraudsters preyed on a grandparents’ 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.”
Prosecutors say Owuor conducted cash pick-ups from victims, and recruited, and supervised "mules" to make similar collections.
The defendants then laundered the money either by transferring the funds or converting the money into cryptocurrency, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Five others have pleaded guilty, while two other defendants remain at large.
Owuor was ordered to forfeit $4,300 in proceeds he personally received from the offense, and to pay $434,600 to the victims in restitution. During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo indicated that this custodial sentence will send a strong message to anyone who conspires to participate in such a “heartbreakingly evil” scheme.
“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.