Skip to main content
Press Release

Man Accused of Role in Scam Targeting Elderly Couple in St. Louis Area

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A man appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Louis Tuesday to face a federal criminal complaint accusing him of a role in a scam that tried to steal $88,000 from an elderly Missouri couple with false child pornography claims.

Yu-Chieh Huang, 22, was charged by complaint August 11 in U.S. District Court in St. Louis with a felony charge of wire fraud. Charging documents say that a 78-year-old man trying to access his personal computer on August 9 was greeted with a pop-up message claiming that his computer was infected with a virus. The message instructed him to call a specified telephone number.

When the man and his 76-year-old wife called the number, they were told that their banking information had been compromised because someone had been accessing child pornography on the computer, and that they would have to pay $88,000 to avoid prosecution, the complaint says.

The couple was told to withdraw the money in multiple transactions from multiple branches of their financial institution, then photograph and package the money and await a visitor.

The couple became suspicious after completing the withdrawals, and when Huang arrived at their house on August 10 to collect the money, they refused to pay, the complaint says. After Huang left, the couple called police and met with an officer at their home. They called police again when Huang returned and officers found him at the home and arrested him, the complaint says.

Investigators believe Huang was a courier paid from $500 to $1,000 to pick up cash from scam victims, use a fraudulent Taiwanese passport to deposit cash into a bank account and then transfer the money to others via cashier’s checks, the complaint says. Huang picked up $40,000 from an elderly individual in Colorado and $40,000 from an elderly person in Oregon before traveling to St. Louis, the complaint says.

Court documents say Huang is from Taiwan.

“Criminals who take advantage of elderly individuals, whose income is often fixed, are absolutely appalling,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Kansas City Taekuk Cho. “These offenders are very organized and utilize a multitude of fear tactics to extort vulnerable people and oftentimes cause undue financial hardship.”

The charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both prison and a fine.

Charges set forth in a criminal complaint are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is prosecuting the case.

Updated August 16, 2023

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud