Florida Crackdown: Six Arrested in Alleged $250K ‘Grandparent Scam’ Operation

Florida Crackdown Six Arrested in Alleged $250K 'Grandparent Scam' Operation

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said on Monday that six suspected con artists had been taken into custody for allegedly using “grandparent scams” to steal about $250,000 from the state’s elderly population.

According to Moody, the suspects approached elderly people, posing as one of their grandkids’ attorneys, and informed them that their grandchild was being held on bail for striking a pregnant lady with a car. The victim was then set up to transmit money to the suspects.

All six suspects – Jairo Izquierdo, Genesis Castro, Wendy Angelina Ortiz, Ada Tido, Wandy Castro, and Olfa Cornielle – are charged with multiple first-degree felonies, including an organized scheme to defraud, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification.

“These fraudsters know that most grandparents would do anything to help a grandchild in need, and through a convincing imposter scheme they used fear and family to extort Florida seniors—stealing nearly a quarter of a million dollars,” Moody said in a release.

“Working with our great law enforcement partners in South Florida, we were able to shut down this far-reaching grandparent scheme and now six fraudsters will have to answer for their crimes.”

Florida Attorney Ashley Moody said that six defendants were charged in connection with the “grandparent scams,” including Genesis Castro (left) and Ada Tido (right). (Jail of Miami-Dade County)

Once the victims were told the false narrative about the grandchildren, the accused con artists would coerce the elderly to post-bond.

Investigators claim that the suspects gave the victims instructions to produce the cash bail amount and put it in a box that would be picked up by couriers, who were disguised as ride-share drivers and asked by the suspects. The couriers would then take the cash to a prearranged location.

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Stephanie V. Daniels stated in the release, “I am immensely proud of the Vice Intelligence Squad of the Miami-Dade Police Department, for their exceptional collaboration with the Florida Attorney General, and federal agencies in successfully apprehending individuals involved in extorting the elderly population.”

“Their dedication, expertise, and unwavering commitment to protecting our community’s most vulnerable population are truly commendable.”

The accused sometimes got in touch with the same victim more than once in an attempt to extract more money.

In one instance, a senior paid $9,000 and was later informed that the pregnant woman had miscarried, requiring an additional $18,000 to cover the increased costs.

The same victim was subsequently informed by the suspects that the baby’s father had attacked her grandson, resulting in the miscarriage, and that the grandchild had elbowed a police officer during the altercation.

This led to the requirement for an additional $20,000 bond in addition to $7,500 in court costs. Over $54,000 was allegedly received by the accused scammers.

Another senior experienced a similar circumstance and ended up paying the con artists $53,000.

In another case, a victim paid $8,000, and the accused said the pregnant mother lost her baby and contacted the family again the next day, demanding an additional $4,000 for the grandson’s bond. The suspects demanded an additional $1,700 the following day, claiming the grandchild had medical bills as a result of the event.

Another victim posted money for $30,000 and then sent an extra $7,000 after the con artists said the expectant woman had passed away, increasing the bond.

Seniors in several counties, including Brevard, Broward, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, and Sarasota, were the targets of the suspects.

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