Arizona woman among those indicted in ‘grandparent scam’ network
PHOENIX — A 73-year-old Arizona woman is among those that were indicted by a federal grand jury as part of a racketeering conspiracy that defrauded elderly people, authorities said on Wednesday.
Lyda Harris, from the Laveen area of Phoenix, is alleged to have been part of a criminal enterprise that scammed more than $2 million combined from elderly victims, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice.
The elderly people were contacted by the criminal enterprise over the phone, with members and associates impersonating the victim’s grandchild, other close relative or friend, according to the indictment.
Members and associates of the criminal enterprise would tell the victim they were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, medical expenses for car accident victims or to prevent additional charges from being filed, the indictment read.
“These defendants were part of a large network of individuals that systematically targeted elderly Americans by preying on their concern for loved ones,” Arun Rao, deputy assistant attorney general for the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Division, said in the release.
Five people along with Harris were arrested for the conspiracy, according to the release, made up of three California residents and two Florida residents.
Two other people, both Florida residents, were also charged.
Money was collected from the victims either in-person, by mail or wire transfer, according to the release.
The proceeds were then laundered, including through cryptocurrency, according to the release.