Serial Fraudster Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison for Participating in Elder Fraud “Grandparent” Scheme and a COVID-19 CARES Act Unemployment Benefit Scheme
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel sentenced David Annor, age 28 and Lesley Annor, age 23, both of Gaithersburg, Maryland to federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering, in connection with a romance scheme in which conspiracy members induced elderly and isolated victims to send money to co-conspirators based on romantic assertions and other misrepresentations. David Annor, Lesley Annor, and their co-conspirators received and laundered the payments from the victims. David Annor was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Lesley Annor was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The court also ordered the Annors to pay $6,278,250 in restitution.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Director in Charge Wayne Jacobs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division (USPIS); and Special Agent in Charge Matthew R. Stohler of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office (USSS).
“David and Lesley Annor preyed on hundreds of elderly victims around the world. They took advantage of their trust to selfishly obtain millions of dollars in fraud proceeds. Now, they will spend time in federal prison for the severe financial fraud they have inflicted on vulnerable elderly victims,” said United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron. “This sentencing should serve as a deterrent from others conspiring to defraud our elderly citizens.”
“This investigation is yet another example that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is strongly committed to ensuring the sanctity of the U.S. Mail and will hold those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens accountable for their actions.” said Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.
“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s and our law enforcement partners’ commitment to pursuing justice for victims of elder fraud,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “We will continue to track down criminals like Annor and his co-conspirators—who coldheartedly prey on their elderly victims’ isolation, loneliness, and vulnerability and then pocket their hard-earned money—and hold them to account for their cruel scams.”
“We are pleased to see justice served here. These individuals preyed on the elderly making their crimes particularly egregious. The outcome of this collective investigative effort should send a clear message that these types of scams will not be tolerated.” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew R. Stohler of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office.
According to their guilty pleas, between May 2017 and October 2020, David Annor, Lesley Annor, and a co-conspirator participated in a romance scheme that targeted elderly victims online, typically through social media, dating websites, e-mail, and online applications. Once the conspiracy members convinced the victims to trust them, the conspiracy members would instruct the victims to send money to bank accounts and physical addresses linked to David Annor and conspiracy members. Conspirators often received 10 percent of the victim’s money and sent the remainder of the money to co-conspirators located in Ghana.
For example, in September 2018, Victim 2, a woman born in 1957, met an individual claiming to be Brett Fernley on a social media platform. Fernley told Victim 2 that he was an underwater welder from Canada, who resided in Florida and worked near Ireland. After engaging in what Victim 2 thought to be romantic conversations, and gaining Victim 2’s trust, Fernley began asking Victim 2 for money.
In December 2018, Fernley instructed Victim 2 on how to send money to a bank account in the name of Ravid Enterprise, a business bank account opened and controlled by David Annor. Bank records show that Victim 2 wired over $44,800 to the Ravid Enterprise bank account.
Over the course of the scheme, the conspiracy members laundered over $6,200,000 through approximately 34 bank accounts at 11 different financial institutions. At least $3,909,396 in victim payments were made into personal and business bank accounts controlled by David Annor.
The Annor brothers have remained in custody since their arrest on November 16, 2020.
The Department of Justice runs the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311), has an interactive tool for elders who have been financially exploited to help determine to which agency they should report their incident, and also a senior scam alert website. 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. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron praised FBI, USPIS, and the USSS for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Windom and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jessica C. Harvey from the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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