Department of Justice Charges Unprecedented Number of Elder Fraud Defendants Nationwide and Launches Hotline
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of North Carolina
Former Greensboro Resident Sentenced for Defrauding Elder Victim
Greensboro, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina joined Attorney General William P. Barr, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, and Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale today in announcing the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. This year, prosecutors charged more than 400 defendants, far surpassing the 260 defendants charged in cases as part of last year’s sweep. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of over a billion dollars.
“Americans are fed up with the constant barrage of scams that maliciously target the elderly and other vulnerable citizens,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “This year, the Department of Justice prosecuted more than 400 defendants, whose schemes totaled more than a billion dollars. I want to thank the men and women of the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which coordinated this effort, and all those in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Criminal Division who worked tirelessly to bring these cases. The Department is committed to stopping the full range of criminal activities that exploit America’s seniors.”
“Prosecuting elder fraud is one of our top priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Martin. “Defrauding older people is reprehensible conduct and we will use all the federal resources available to us to make sure defendants who commit these vile crimes are held accountable.”
This interactive map provides information on the elder fraud cases highlighted by today’s sweep announcement.
United States v. Kramer
U.S. Attorney Martin also announced that a woman whose case was included in the sweep totals was sentenced February 26, 2020, in federal court in Winston-Salem for wire fraud and money laundering.
ROZALIA ANN KRAMER, age 51, was sentenced to a total term of imprisonment of 24 months by United States District Judge Loretta C. Biggs. In addition to prison time, KRAMER was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $90,000 and a special assessment of $100.00. A forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $102,000 was also imposed. KRAMER pleaded guilty on October 8, 2019.
According to documents filed with the Court, KRAMER met elderly World War II veteran J.V.M. while in line at the K&W Cafeteria at Friendly Center shopping center in Greensboro. After speaking in line with J.V.M., KRAMER dined with him. She then began to socialize with the elderly widower regularly eating with him and meeting him on social occasions, J.V.M. owned a residence on Forest Hill Drive in Greensboro, free of any liens or mortgages. He had lived in the house since the 1950s and raised his family there. However, in 2015 J.V.M. began to reach the bottom of his retirement savings. He approached at least one bank and attempted to arrange a reverse mortgage. He then approached his friend KRAMER who had told him that she was a wealthy real estate investor. KRAMER represented that she could provide J.V.M. with a reverse mortgage and would provide him a life estate that would allow him to live in the Forest Hill Drive property for the rest of his life. J.V.M. agreed and gave KRAMER a deed to the property. However, KRAMER included the Forest Hill Drive property as part of a group of properties used to induce a loan from B2R Finance. J.V.M. was unaware that B2R Finance gained a first security interest in the Forest Hill Drive property. At the closing of the loan from B2R Finance, KRAMER directed that $146,000 of the proceeds be wired to J.V.M.’s bank account representing the money to be from the purported reverse mortgage. KRAMER provided J.V.M. with a life estate in the Forest Hill Drive property, but the life estate was subordinate to the first deed of trust. KRAMER then induced J.V.M. to part with half of the proceeds of the purported “reverse mortgage.” She induced him to loan $75,000.00 to a corporation she controlled and gave J.V.M. a promissory note due in one year. These funds were converted to KRAMER’s use and never repaid to the victim. Instead, KRAMER moved to Colorado and broke off all contact with J.V.M. She made no payments to B2R Finance on the loan, and B2R foreclosed. J.V.M. continued to live in the Forest Hill Drive property secure in his belief that he had a life estate in the property. However, the life estate was extinguished when B2R Finance foreclosed, and J.V.M. was evicted.
From Colorado, KRAMER moved to Wyoming in an attempt to avoid victims of her frauds who were seeking repayment. She ultimately took a job working on an isolated hunting ranch 15 miles outside Wheatland, Wyoming. She lived in housing owned by the ranch and drove a vehicle registered under a corporate name. Despite these attempts to avoid justice, Postal Inspectors from Greensboro, North Carolina, and Laramie, Wyoming, located KRAMER, and arrested her at the ranch.
The victim died in 2019. At sentencing, his daughter testified that the eviction had a devastating impact on her father. KRAMER was taken into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service in North Carolina, Colorado, and Wyoming. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank J. Chut, Jr.
Elder Fraud Hotline
Attorney General Barr also announced the launch of a National Elder Fraud Hotline, which will provide services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud. The Hotline will be staffed by experienced case managers who can provide personalized support to callers. Case managers will assist callers with reporting the suspected fraud to relevant agencies and by providing resources and referrals to other appropriate services as needed. When applicable, case managers will complete a complaint form with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for Internet-facilitated crimes and submit a consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the caller. The Hotline’s toll free number is 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).
For the second year, the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners also took comprehensive action against the money mule network that facilitates foreign-based elder fraud. Generally, perpetrators use a “money mule” to transfer fraud proceeds from a victim to ringleaders of fraud schemes who often reside in other countries. Some of these money mules act unwittingly, and intervention can effectively end their involvement in the fraud. The FBI and the Postal Inspection Service took action against over 600 alleged money mules nationwide by conducting interviews, issuing warning letters, and bringing civil and criminal cases. Agents and prosecutors in more than 85 federal district participated in this effort to halt the money flow from victim to fraudster. These actions against money mules were in addition to the criminal and civil cases announced as part of this year’s elder fraud sweep.
These outreach efforts have helped to prevent seniors from falling prey to scams and have frustrated offenders’ efforts to obtain even more money from vulnerable elders.
The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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Updated March 4, 2020