Baltimore, Maryland – A federal jury convicted Eghosasere Avboraye-Igbinedion a/k/a “Ego” and “Ghost,” age 28, of Miramar, Florida, for a federal charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud, in connection with a scheme in which he and his co-conspirators defrauded more than 85 elderly victims of more than $2.5 million. The verdict was returned on June 15, 2023, after a six-day trial.
The guilty verdict was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“Avboraye-Ibginedion was part of a scheme that targeted elderly victims by falsely claiming that a grandchild was in trouble and needed money and convincing the victims to send them thousands of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “If you or someone you know is a victim of financial fraud, please report it by contacting the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”
“Sophisticated scams like this one take advantage of a grandparent’s relationship with their loved ones,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI's Baltimore field office. “The FBI is working to educate and protect victims as we identify and bring to justice those seeking to defraud our most vulnerable community members.”
According to the evidence presented at trial, from January 2018 through November 2019, Avboraye-Ibginedion was part of a conspiracy to defraud elderly victims by persuading them to send thousands of dollars in cash to members of the conspiracy, falsely stating that the money would be used to help the victims’ relatives pay legal or other expenses for crimes and other incidents that had not actually occurred. Conspirators targeted elderly victims throughout the United States, calling and posing as a police officer, lawyer, or other individual, falsely telling the victim that a relative, typically the victim’s grandchild, had been incarcerated in connection with a car accident or traffic stop involving a crime, and needed money—often tens of thousands of dollars—for bail, legal fees, and other expenses.
Witnesses testified that during the telephone calls, the conspirators directed victims to send cash to particular addresses via an overnight delivery service. The conspirators even posed as the victims’ relatives to further induce them to send the cash. Once the victims did send money, the conspirators called the victims asking for more cash, regularly obtaining tens of thousands of dollars from the retirement savings of victims. To prevent the victims from sharing the information with anyone, the conspirators told the victims that a “gag order” had been placed on the case requiring secrecy, or that the situation was embarrassing for the grandchild and they didn’t want anyone else to know about it.
The evidence proved that Avboraye-Ibginedion’s part in the scheme was to retrieve packages of cash sent by elderly victims and deliver the packages to a co-defendant, Medard Ulysse. Avboraye-Ibginedion and other conspirators traveled from Florida to Maryland and other states and identified residential locations where the cash should be sent, typically locations that were either vacant or for sale, so that no one would be at those locations at the time of the deliveries. Once the packages were delivered, Avboraye-Ibginedion and others retrieved the packages of cash. Avboraye-Ibginedion and other conspirators also relayed directions to other participants in the scheme about where and when to retrieve packages of cash. Avboraye-Ibginedion then delivered the packages to Ulysse or to other conspirators.
Avboraye-Ibginedion faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has not yet scheduled sentencing Avboraye-Ibginedion.
Co-defendant Medard Ulysse, age 38, most recently of Miami, Florida, was sentenced earlier this year to nine years in federal prison, for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in relation to multiple fraud schemes, including the elder fraud “grandparent” scam. Judge Bennett also ordered Ulysse to pay restitution totaling $2,485,512, of which $1,866,745 is for the elder fraud scam.
Reporting from consumers about fraud and fraud attempts is critical to law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute schemes targeting older adults. If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Department of Justice Hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying next steps, including identifying appropriate reporting agencies, providing information to callers to assist them in reporting or connecting them with agencies, and providing resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis. The hotline is staffed from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available. More information about the Department’s elder justice efforts can be found on the Department’s Elder Justice website, www.elderjustice.gov. Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at this website or by calling 1-800-225-5324.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Canadian Sûreté du Québec for its assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean R. Delaney and Christine Goo, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help seniors, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/elder-justice-initiative.
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