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Press Release

Sixteen Defendants Charged in Connection with Transnational “Grandparent Scam” Operated from Dominican Republic

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Scam Cheated Hundreds of American Seniors of Millions of Dollars

WASHINGTON – Sixteen individuals were charged in connection with a sprawling “grandparent scam” to defraud elderly Americans out of millions of dollars, the Justice Department announced today during a virtual announcement

Eleven men from the Dominican Republic are charged in a 19-count indictment with mail and wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering:

  • Juan Rafael Parra Arias, also known as Yofre, 41;
  • Nefy Vladimir Parra Arias, also known as Keko, 39;
  • Nelson Rafael Gonzalez Acevedo, also known as Nelson Tech, 35;
  • Rafael Ambiorix Rodriguez Guzman, also known as Max Morgan, 59;
  • Miguel Angel Fortuna Solano, also known as Botija, and Boti, 41;
  • Felix Samuel Reynoso Ventura, also known as Fili, and Filly The Kid, 37;
  • Carlos Javier Estevez, 45;
  • Louis Junior Rodriguez Serrano, also known as Junior, 27;
  • Miguel Angel Vasquez, also known as Miguel Disla, 24;
  • Jovanni Antonio Rosario Garcia, also known as Porky, and Chop, 45; and
  • Jose Ismael Dilone Rodriguez, 34

According to the indictment, unsealed yesterday, in Newark, New Jersey, the defendants engaged in a long-running “grandparent” or “family in need of bail” scam against seniors in the United States.  The scam was operated from call centers in the Dominican Republic.

An additional five defendants were charged by complaint with wire fraud conspiracy as part of the same scheme: Endy Jose Torres Moran, 21, of Brooklyn, New York; Ivan Alexander Inoa Suero, 32, of New York City; Jhonny Cepeda, 27, of New York City; Ramon Hurtado, 43, of New York City, and Yuleisy Roque, 21, of the Bronx, New York.  All five of the defendants charged by complaint are alleged to have acted as couriers who picked up cash from defrauded victims in New Jersey, New York and elsewhere.

“The Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and its law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue individuals who prey on vulnerable and elderly victims through fraudulent schemes,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao of the Civil Division. “We will continue to identify perpetrators of these schemes and prioritize the pursuit of those who deliberately target vulnerable consumers, whether located in the United States or abroad.”

“As alleged, these 16 defendants preyed upon grandparents’ familial love and devotion, cheating them out of millions of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Sellinger for the District of New Jersey. “In this ‘grandparents’ scam,’ the defendants allegedly impersonated grandchildren in distress, claiming, for example, they had been arrested after a car accident involving a pregnant woman who later miscarried, and they needed immediate cash for bail or a lawyer. The panic-stricken grandparents quickly paid — sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. My office is committed to protecting the rights of all victims, and we will relentlessly prosecute those who allegedly target vulnerable seniors to steal their hard-earned savings.”

“Today’s announcement stems from the defendants’s alleged heartless targeting of elderly victims who were collectively tricked into handing over millions of dollars," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Darren B. McCormack of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York. “For their own selfish gain, these accused individuals threatened innocent Americans’ livelihoods and robbed them of their precious time and any nest eggs they had secured for themselves. I commend HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force Cyber Intrusion Group, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the NYPD, the FBI, the Social Security Office of Inspector General and HSI Santo Domingo for their outstanding collaboration and coordination. This can truly happen to anybody, and while we will always be there to assist victims, we hope that raising awareness will give these criminal opportunists fewer chances to target the public.”

“Fraud targeting the elderly has a uniquely harmful effect on a segment of the population that is often amongst society's most vulnerable,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley Parker of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG), Boston New York Field Division. “SSA OIG is proud to join HSI, the FBI, the Justice Department and the NYPD in investigating these complex, international scams aimed at defrauding SSA beneficiaries.”

“These charges underscore law enforcement’s commitment to protecting our older population from fraudsters and financial exploitation,” said Commissioner Edward A. Caban of the New York Police Department (NYPD). “The crimes outlined here are truly depraved in their nature: targeting our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others in an elaborate venture to bilk them of their hard-earned savings. I applaud our NYPD investigators and all of our federal partners involved in this important case for their tireless dedication to our shared public safety mission.”

“The FBI and its partners are deeply committed to keeping our elderly population out of harm’s way,” said Executive Assistant Director Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. “Even when components of these grandparent scams are being perpetuated from beyond our borders, those who engage in illicit activity seeking to defraud the American people can be assured that their actions have consequences. If you or someone you know is a victim of elder fraud, please come forward and report it.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Juan Rafael Parra Arias, Nefy Vladimir Parra Arrias and Gonzalez Acevedo operated a sophisticated network of call centers in the Dominican Republic. Their alleged victims included elderly residents of several states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The call centers victimized hundreds of Americans through fraud, stealing millions of dollars.

Members of the conspiracy referred to as “openers” called elderly victims in the United States and impersonated the victims’ children, grandchildren, or other close relatives. The call centers used technology to make it appear that the calls were coming from inside the United States. Typically, the victim was told that their grandchild had been in a car accident, was arrested in connection with an accident, and needed help. 

Once openers tricked victims into believing their loved ones were in dire trouble, others working at the call centers, known as “closers,” allegedly impersonated defense attorneys, police officers or court personnel and convinced victims to provide thousands of dollars in cash to help their loved ones. 

According to charging documents, closers, including defendants Rodriguez Guzman, Fortuna Solano, Reynoso Ventura and Estevez typically told victims to give the cash to couriers who they sent to victims’ homes to collect their money. Other times, closers instructed victims to send the cash by mail.

Once victims were convinced to give cash, call center “dispatchers,” including Rodriguez Serrano, Vasquez, Rosario Garcia, and Dilone Rodriguez, recruited and managed a network of U.S.-based couriers to obtain cash from the elderly victims across the northeastern United States.

Those U.S.-based couriers, including the five charged by complaint, typically went to the elderly victims’ home to pick up the cash, often using false names and providing victims with fake receipts. The couriers then brought the cash to other members of the conspiracy, who sent the victims’ money to the Dominican Republic.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty 20 years in prison for each count, a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count of the mail and wire fraud charges and a maximum fine of $500,000 for each count of money laundering.

Deputy Assistant Attorney Rao joined U.S. Attorney Sellinger, Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy of the FBI’s Newark Division and Deputy Special Agent in Charge McCormack of Homeland Security Investigations New York made the announcement.

HIS, SSA-OIG, NYPD, and the FBI are investigating the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance.

Trial Attorneys Jason Feldman, Joshua Ferrentino and Emily Powers of the Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Silane for the District of Jersey are prosecuting the case.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has experienced financial fraud, experienced professionals are standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Justice Department hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, can provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.

More information about the department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage. For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Justice Department provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office for Victims of Crime, which can be reached at

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 30, 2024

Elder Justice
Consumer Protection
Press Release Number: 24-532