Baltimore, Maryland – U..S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced McArnold Charlemagne, age 35, of Miramar, Florida, yesterday to 41 months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release, for a federal mail fraud conspiracy charge, in connection with a scheme in which he defrauded more than 65 elderly victims of more than $1.5 million. Judge Bennett also ordered Charlemagne to pay restitution of $1,866,745.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“Targeting senior citizens for abuse will bring the full weight of the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Unites States Attorney Erek L. Barron. “If you or someone you know is a victim of financial fraud, please help us bring justice by contacting the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”
“Elderly Americans deserve to live their golden years enjoying their hard-earned savings, not being victimized by fraudsters like Charlemagne,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI's Baltimore field office. “The FBI will do all it can to make seniors aware of these threats and hold those preying on our seniors accountable.”
According to Charlemagne’s plea agreement, from about January 2018 through at least December 2019, he was part of a conspiracy to defraud elderly victims by persuading them to send thousands of dollars in cash to members of the conspiracy by falsely stating that the money would be used to help the victims’ relatives pay legal or other expenses in connection with crimes and other incidents that had not occurred or that the money would be sent to particular individuals at their addresses, rather than to members of the conspiracy falsely claiming to reside at those addresses. Charlemagne’s co-conspirators telephoned elderly victims throughout the United States, 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.
As detailed in the plea agreement, during the telephone calls, the co-conspirators directed victims to send cash to a particular address via an overnight delivery service. The co-conspirators even posed as the victims’ relatives to further induce them to send the cash. Once the victims did send money, the co-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 co-conspirators allegedly 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.
Charlemagne admitted that, in order to conceal the crime, he and other co-conspirators identified residential locations across the country where the cash should be sent, including in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Florida. Charlemagne and his co-conspirators identified locations that were either vacant or for sale, so that no one would be at those locations at the time of the deliveries, then retrieved the packages of cash when they were delivered. Charlemagne and other co-conspirators recruited and instructed additional people to assist in retrieving packages of cash from specified locations.
As a result of the execution of the scheme to defraud, Charlemagne and others caused at least 85 different victims to send a total of at least $2.5 million.
On June 15, 2023, co-conspirator Eghosasere Avboraye-Igbinedion a/k/a “Ego” and “Ghost,” age 28, of Miramar, Florida, was convicted after a six-day trial conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud, in connection with the scheme. Co-conspirator 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.
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. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean R. Delaney and Christine Goo, who are prosecuting the case.
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