News and Press Releases

Culpeper Man Sentenced to 27 Months for "Granny Ripping" Schemes

February 26, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Donald Ray Norcross, 26, of Culpeper, Va., was sentenced today in Alexandria federal court to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for targeting vulnerable elderly homeowners and defrauding them of tens of thousands of dollars through bogus repairs and services. He was also ordered to pay $27,100 in restitution. 

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jeffrey Irvine, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after Norcross was sentenced by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

“Robbing vulnerable seniors is a shameful crime that can’t be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “This is one of many cases we are investigating to ensure that the elderly in our communities are protected from this despicable kind of fraud.”

“‘Wood chucking’ investigations are cases that very much impact our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Irvine. “Today’s sentencing is a clear example of how our local, state and federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors share a common commitment to protect our most vulnerable neighbors from financial predators.”

According to court documents, Norcross and others engaged in a scheme that conspirators dubbed “woodchucking” or “granny ripping,” in which they would identify wealthy elderly homeowners – typically in the Northern Virginia area and often with mental or physical difficulties – and offer to provide unnecessary services, such as fake utility work or unnecessary home repair and yard work.  The conspirators would also trick the homeowner into paying thousands of dollars multiple times for the same work, issuing replacement checks for checks that had allegedly been “lost” and writing checks in the names of individuals who had done no work.  Norcross is the third defendant to be sentenced in case.  Last month, Robbie Breeden, 25, also of Culpeper, Va., was sentenced to 9 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. The investigation is ongoing. 

 This investigation is coordinated by the U.S. Secret Service and includes law enforcement from Arlington County, Fairfax County and Vienna Police Departments; Virginia State Police; and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Charles F. Connolly and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael Whitlock are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on



Return to Top

Community Outreach

Protect yourself from fraud, and report suspected cases of financial fraud to local law enforcement.


Megaupload - Release For Victim Notification


Talk to your kids about gangs and how to avoid them.

Project Safe Childhood

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.

Stay Connected with Twitter
Justice 101