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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pekin Man to be Sentenced for Defrauding Elderly Victim

Central District of Illinois Defendant Among Justice Department's Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep Announced Today

PEORIA, Ill., A Pekin, Ill., man, Deryl Wright, 42, of the 1400 block of Camden St., is scheduled to be sentenced next week, on Feb. 28, 2018, after admitting that he engaged in a two-year scheme that defrauded an elderly, vulnerable victim of nearly $100,000.

Wright is among the more than 250 defendants included in today’s announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice of the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars.

“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Attorney General Sessions. “Today’s actions send a clear message: we will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are. When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at the Department’s disposal – criminal prosecutions to punish offenders, civil injunctions to shut the schemes down, and asset forfeiture to take back ill-gotten gains. Today is only the beginning. I have directed Department prosecutors to coordinate with both domestic law enforcement partners and foreign counterparts to stop these criminals from exploiting our seniors.”

Many of these cases illustrate how an elderly American can lose his or her life savings to a duplicitous relative, guardian, or stranger who gains the victim’s trust.  The devastating effects these cases have on victims and their families, both financially and psychologically, make prosecuting elder fraud a key Department priority.

Wright was indicted in September 2017, and on Nov. 22, 2017, pleaded guilty to the three counts of wire fraud charged. Wright admitted that beginning in 2015 and continuing to April 2017, he defrauded the victim under the premise that Wright’s father had died and he was to inherit a large sum of money. Wright told the victim that he needed to borrow money to receive the inheritance check and that he would pay back the victim from the inheritance money. In fact, Wright had no such inheritance check; rather, the money he obtained from the victim was used to support his lifestyle and for his personal benefit.

It was part of the scheme that Wright gave the victim a continual source of reasons why the inheritance check was delayed or he was unable to obtain it. For example, Wright said he needed money to pay taxes and for processing fees; for claimed arrests, car accidents, and hospital admissions that did not occur; or, for car repairs so he could travel to pick up the check. Wright asked the victim to wire the money using money transfers at Walmart in Pekin, Ill., to Walmart stores located out of state.

At sentencing, the maximum penalty for wire fraud is up to 20 years in prison. Wright has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest on Oct. 2, 2017.

The Pekin Police Department investigated the charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine G. Legge is prosecuting the case in the Peoria Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.

Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Updated February 22, 2018