At least 10 elderly San Diego County residents have been victimized by a nationwide “grandparent scam”, in which two defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  

Jack Owuor, 25, of Paramount, California pleaded guilty in federal court on March 9. Timothy Ingram, 29, of North Hollywood, California, pleaded guilty on March 2, 2022. This case was investigated by the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force, which 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.

The defendants were members and associated with a criminal enterprise that engaged in extortion and fraud to swingle more than $2 million from over 70 elderly victims across the nation, according to court documents. 

The defendants have swindled over $300,000 from the elderly San Diego County residents. 

According to the U.S Attorney’s Office, the fraud scheme was active from approximately Nov.1, 2019 until Oct.14, 2020 which targeted elderly Americans. 

According to court documents, the defendants would tell false stories about the victim’s grandchildren being in legal trouble and are in need of money to pay for bail, pay for medical expenses for car accident victims, or prevent additional charges from being filed. 

Money was obtained by members and associates 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.

“These defendants exploited the sacred bond between grandparent and grandchild and left many victims financially and emotionally traumatized,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will vigorously investigate and bring to justice those who prey on the elderly.”

Ingram admitted in his plea agreement that he organized the criminal activity of at least five other participants, including codefendants Anajah Gifford and Jack Owuor. According to his plea, mules were recruited through Instagram to receive money from victims in California and elsewhere. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ingram is ordered to pay at least $1,932,507.93 of restitution to victims. 

Owuor admitted in his plea agreement that he conducted cash pick-ups from victims under Ingram’s direction, and later recruited women as miles to pick up cash to make “it more smooth.” 

At least $434,600 in restitution will be paid to the victims by Owuor, who also agreed to forfeit $4,300 in proceeds he personally received from the offense. As of today, four of the eight defendants charged in the case are pending trial. Two defendants are fugitives and remain at large.

“These guilty pleas are a prime example of the collaboration and coordination among our local, state, and federal partners who make up San Diego’s Elder Justice Task Force, and the great work being done to protect our elderly population,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “The task force is committed to aggressively pursuing criminal organizations who prey on our senior citizens and will utilize all available investigative means to bring them to justice. I would also like to thank the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office for their continued support in this case.”    

The Elder Justice Task Force was established in February 2021 and is believed to be the first comprehensive law enforcement effort for this purpose anywhere in the country. 

“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will pursue and prosecute individuals who systematically target elderly Americans by preying on their concern for loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. 

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