U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern District of Tennessee Supports Justice Department Initiative to Protect Elders from Fraud and Abuse
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners announced today the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. The cases involve more than 250 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than a million Americans, most of whom were elderly. The cases include criminal, civil, and forfeiture actions across more than 50 federal districts. Of the defendants, 200 were charged criminally. In each case, offenders engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars. The Department coordinated its announcement with the FTC and state Attorneys General, who independently filed numerous cases targeting elder frauds within the sweep period.
“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.”
The actions charged a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds to individual incidences of identity theft and theft by guardians. A number of cases involved transnational criminal organizations that defrauded hundreds of thousands of elderly victims, while others involved a single relative or fiduciary who took advantage of an individual victim. The schemes charged in these cases caused losses to more than a million victims.
“Although not directly involved in today’s national sweep, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee fully supports this initiative,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey. “Protecting our seniors has been, and will continue to be, a top priority of our office. Working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, we will investigate and build cases for successful prosecution of these individuals who choose to victimize some of our most vulnerable citizens. I encourage everyone to speak out and tell someone if he or she has been a victim of elder abuse or financial fraud. Please do not remain silent,” added U.S. Attorney Overbey.
In the Eastern District of Tennessee, two individuals were recently sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud against elderly victims. In July 2017, Christy A. Greider, 40, and Jason A. Greider, 42, both of Huber Heights, Ohio, were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Knoxville to serve 33 and 27 months respectively in federal prison.
Christy Greider worked as the bookkeeper for M-3 Construction, Inc., located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She also helped the company’s elderly owners keep track of their personal finances. Christy and Jason Greider made unauthorized purchases totaling more than $350,000 using the company’s and its elderly owners’ personal credit cards. Some of these unauthorized purchases included a boat, pool, furniture, and a trip to Hawaii.
These charges and subsequent guilty plea and sentencing were the results of a cooperative investigation by the Oak Ridge Police Department and FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly A. Norris represented the United States in the court proceedings.
In another case in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, John Allen Morris, Jr., 51, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 36 months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $1.2 million in restitution to identified victims of his offenses, for wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and wrongful use of a government seal.
Morris was employed as an insurance and annuities broker with a legitimate insurance company. His scheme to sell fraudulent annuities to elderly clients began in late 2006 when he established two fictitious companies and convinced elderly clients to cash out legitimate annuities and invest their money with those companies, promising a higher rate of return. He created and provided his clients with imaginary elaborate and personalized financial statements reflecting the supposed status of their accounts. Establishing multiple accounts at various banks, Morris would deposit investment checks from his clients, and later use these funds to pay off initial investors in a Ponzi-like scheme, as well as pay personal bills, buy material items for himself and his family and invest himself in his own ventures. These schemes included a Lamborghini car kit selling enterprise and “Football Tech,” a company created to train high school football players by attempting to attract prominent former NFL players and coaches into contributing to camps for kids based on Morris’s claims of his own football coaching expertise.
A cooperative investigation by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance lead to the indictment, guilty plea and subsequent sentencing of Morris. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Neff represented the United States in court proceedings.
Although not as recent as the other two referenced cases, Mark Kevin Tudor, 42, of Knoxville, Tennessee was sentenced in 2014 to serve 36 months in federal prison and pay $266,227.80 in restitution for federal wire fraud charges.
An investigation by the Knoxville Police Department and U.S. Postal Inspection Service determined that Tudor abused a position of trust after having been granted a power-of-attorney by his 93-year-old great aunt, who suffered from a visual disability and needed assistance with her financial affairs. Without his great aunt’s permission or authority, Tudor systematically depleted her bank and credit union account and life insurance policy. In total, Tudor stole over $267,000 before the fraud was discovered, which nearly depleted her life savings. According to a written statement read by his great aunt in court, when the she discovered the fraud only $347 remained in her credit union account, which held over $200,000 before the theft. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris represented the United States in court proceedings for this case.
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.
For the full-version of the Department’s release on today’s national sweep click here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-coordinates-nationwide-elder-fraud-sweep-more-250-defendants
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