Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Michael Odell Anderson, age 63, of Dunn Lorring, Virginia, for the federal charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to an elder fraud scam.
The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
According to the one-count indictment, from April 2020 to December 2020, Anderson conspired with others to defraud elderly victims by posing as a bail bondsman, lawyer, or relative on phone calls and convincing the victim to send money for the purported legal expenses of a loved one, generally a grandchild. Further, the indictment alleges that in addition to requesting funds by phone, Anderson and other conspirators posed as bail bondsmen or couriers and received cash directly from the victims. As part of the conspiracy, Anderson recruited additional participants to join the conspiracy and assist in retrieving cash from the victims. Anderson allegedly required the recruited conspirators to pay him a percentage of their earnings from the fraud scheme. Additionally, conspirators allegedly told the victims the money they sent would be returned to them at a later date.
The indictment also alleges that if victims sent cash as directed by conspirators, conspirators fabricated additional reasons for them to send more money. For example, conspirators allegedly claimed the additional funds were necessary for their grandchild’s legal expenses, bail costs, fines, or to pay damages. Conspiracy members allegedly obtained tens of thousands of dollars from the retirement savings of victims.
As stated in the indictment, the conspiracy directed at least 49 different victims to pay at least $800,000 through materially false pretenses, representation, and promises.
If convicted, Anderson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
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 has 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.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean R. Delaney and Matthew J. Maddox, who are prosecuting the federal 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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