Florida Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Impersonating Federal Officers in Nationwide Elder Fraud Scheme
According to court documents, KEEL was arrested on April 4, 2022, by Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies in Hammond, Louisiana, while attempting to defraud a 77-year-old woman identified as “Victim A.” Deputies had received an earlier report from the victim’s son, that his mother had been contacted by people posing as U.S. Department of Treasury agents. These “agents” told Victim A that she should withdraw money from her bank accounts and send it to them for safekeeping because her accounts had been allegedly implicated in fraud or money laundering. Beginning in early March 2022, Victim A transferred approximately $60,000 via Green Dot cards to the “agents.” The “agents” also instructed Victim A to give an additional $60,000 to another “agent” on April 3rd. Victim A complied and handed over this sum to the “agent”, later identified as KEEL, at a mall in Hammond. The next day, the perpetrators called Victim A and instructed her to withdraw the remaining funds from her accounts and hand them over as well. Victim A’s bank contacted her son, who then called the police.
While deputies met with Victim A on April 4th, the “agents” called her again and gave her instructions to hand over the rest of her money. Deputies arranged a sting operation and arrested KEEL after he approached Victim A in the mall parking lot. Victim A identified KEEL as the same man she met with the prior day. Deputies seized a cell phone and hotel receipts from KEEL.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) continued the investigation and learned that KEEL and a co-conspirator, had traveled to New Orleans from Seattle within the past 48 hours using plane tickets purchased with the same credit card. HSI Agents identified another victim (“Victim B”), a 76-year-old woman, who had been defrauded out of $300,000. A search of KEEL’S phone showed that he sent a photograph of a box with Victim B’s name and address on it. Victim B said she used this box to deliver her money to the “agent” she met with in Tukwila, Washington.
HSI Agents also identified another victim (“Victim C”), an 80-year-old woman living in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. HSI Agents learned that Victim C had withdrawn $36,000 from her account because purported federal “agents” called and told her that her accounts had been compromised. However, prior to delivering the money, local police were contacted and waited at her home. Police observed a vehicle circle near Victim C’s house then depart. An officer recorded the vehicle’s license plate. Later, HSI Agents obtained rental records showing that the vehicle had been leased by a co-conspirator at the time of the attempted fraud.
The search of KEEL’S cell phone revealed his contacts with other co-conspirators, dating back to 2021, and his travel to other states, including Texas and Oklahoma, to further the conspiracy. HSI and Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents determined that, since October 2021, KEEL and his co-conspirators caused approximately $4,498,327 in losses, actual and attempted, to 31 victims located throughout the United States.
KEEL previously had pleaded guilty to both counts of the superseding indictment pending in this case. As to Count 1, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Judge Lemelle sentenced KEEL to 125 months in prison and three years of supervised release. As to Count 2, false impersonation of an officer or employee of the United States, KEEL was sentenced to 36 months in prison and one year of supervised release, both terms to be served concurrently. KEEL was also ordered to pay $200 in mandatory special assessment fees. Judge Lemelle ordered that a restitution hearing be set on December 6, 2023.
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 1-877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime at www.ovc.gov. Additional elder justice resources, training, and outreach materials can be found at the Elder Justice Website at www.elderjustice.gov.
If you need assistance or to report elder abuse, please contact your local adult protective services agency through the Eldercare Locator or by call the helpline at 1-800-677-1116 Monday – Friday 9am - 8pm EST. To report elder fraud, please visit the FBI’s IC3 Elder Fraud Complaint Center or contact the dedicated National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833–FRAUD–11 or 833–372–8311 Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm EST.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Homeland Security Investigations, New Orleans Field Office, in investigating this matter. U.S. Attorney Evans also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Detroit Field Office,) the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, Homeland Security Investigations (Seattle Field Office,) the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, for their assistance in this successful prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew R. Payne, Senior Litigation Counsel, is in charge of the prosecution.
Community Outreach Coordinator
U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Updated November 2, 2023