Two Florida Men and Baltimore Woman Facing Federal Indictment in Maryland for Nationwide Scheme That Allegedly Defrauded at Least 70 Elderly Victims of More Than $1.5 Million
Allegedly Part of an International “Grandparent Fraud” Scheme Where They Collected More Than $1.5 Million in Cash Payments by Falsely Telling Victims that a Relative—Typically a Grandchild—Needed Money for Bail, Legal Fees, and Other Expenses
Baltimore, MD (STL.News) A federal grand jury has indicted Medard Ulysse, a/k/a “Jay,” age 37, of Miami, Florida, Eghosasere Avboraye-Igbinedion a/k/a “Ego” and “Ghost,” age 26, of Miramar, Florida, and Amaya English, age 21, of Baltimore, Maryland on the federal charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in connection with a far-reaching scheme in which they allegedly defrauded more than 70 elderly victims of more than $1.5 million. The indictment was returned on March 4, 2021, and was unsealed today. Ulysse turned himself in to authorities today and is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Avboraye-Igbinedion and English were arrested and had their initial appearances on March 24, 2021.
The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“These defendants are charged with participating in a heartless scheme that preys on elderly victims by falsely claiming that a grandchild was in trouble and needed money to pay legal or other expenses. The indictment also alleges that members of the conspiracy pretended to be the victim’s relative to convince them to send thousands of dollars to the conspirators,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “By preying on the grandparents’ love for their family and then stealing their retirement savings, these defendants allegedly victimized them twice. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who perpetrate these despicable schemes targeting elderly victims. I encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim of financial fraud to contact the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”
“This case is a true example of international law enforcement cooperation leading to multiple indictments, arrests and the wide scale disruption of a transnational organized crime group that was mercilessly preying on elderly Americans,” said Jennifer C. Boone, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office “These arrests demonstrate the FBI’s determination to stop these egregious crimes and should serve as a warning to those who would seek to profit by threatening and terrorizing seniors.”
According to the one-count indictment, from January 2018 through November 2019, the defendants were part of a conspiracy to defraud elderly victims by persuading them to send thousands of dollars in cash to members of the conspiracy by falsely stating that the money would be used to help the victims’ relatives pay legal or other expenses in connection with crimes and other incidents that had not actually occurred. Conspirators allegedly telephoned elderly victims throughout the United States, posing as a police officer, lawyer, or other individual, falsely telling the victim that a relative, typically the victim’s grandchild, had been incarcerated in connection with a car accident or traffic stop involving a crime, and needed money—often tens of thousands of dollars—for bail, legal fees, and other expenses.
As stated in the indictment, during the telephone calls, the conspirators directed victims to send cash to a particular address via an overnight delivery service. The conspirators allegedly even posed as the victims’ relatives to further induce them to send the cash. Once the victims did send money, the conspirators called the victims asking for more cash, regularly obtaining tens of thousands of dollars from the retirement savings of victims. To prevent the victims from sharing the information with anyone, the conspirators allegedly told the victims that a “gag order” had been placed on the case requiring secrecy, or that the situation was embarrassing for the grandchild and they didn’t want anyone else to know about it.
The indictment alleges that Ulysse recruited individuals in Florida with promises of travel and cash payments to participate in the scheme by retrieving packages of cash sent by elderly victims and delivering the packages to him. Ulysse allegedly directed conspirators to travel from Florida to Maryland and other states and to identify residential locations across the country where the cash should be sent. At Ulysse’s direction, conspirators identified locations that were either vacant or for sale, so that no one would be at those locations at the time of the deliveries, and then retrieved the packages of cash when they were delivered. Avboraye-Ibginedion, English and other conspirators allegedly retrieved packages of cash from designated locations and relayed directions to other participants in the scheme about where and when to retrieve packages of cash. The conspirators would then allegedly deliver the packages to Ulysse, English, or to other conspirators. Ulysse allegedly distributed, and directed other conspirators to distribute, cash payments to other participants in the fraud scheme.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud conspiracy. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Two defendants previously charged as part of this ongoing investigation, David Green, age 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, and McArnold Charlemagne, age 33, of Miramar, Florida pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud conspiracy charge, admitting that they defrauded more than 28 elderly victims of more than $939,000. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for Green and Charlemagne on October 29, 2021.
The Canadian Sûreté du Québec announced on March 24, 2021, that as part of a National Organized Crime Suppression Squad investigation they carried out a major operation targeting a criminal organization specializing in “Grandparent” type fraud, similar to the scheme alleged in the Maryland indictment. As part of this project, Canadian officials executed 17 search warrants in the greater Montreal metropolitan area and police met with 35 people in connection with the alleged fraud scheme. On that same date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana announced the indictment of defendants charged with a similar fraud scheme in that District.