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Press Release

Dubuque Area Men Plead Guilty to Participating in Fraud that Targeted Elderly Victims Throughout the United States

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

Two men who participated in a scheme to defraud victims across the United States have pled guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids.


Carlos Rodriguez, age 37, from the Dubuque, Iowa area, pled guilty today and was convicted of one count of wire fraud.


At the plea hearing, Rodriguez admitted he participated in a scheme to defraud people throughout the United States and that the fraud was primarily targeted towards the elderly. Rodriguez admitted that other individuals called victims on the phone and told these victims that a relative was in jail. The caller would then ask the victims to wire money via Western Union or Money Gram to get the relative released. Rodriguez further admitted that the money was being wired to various participants in the fraud who would pick up the wire transfers. Rodriguez admitted that he was one of the participants in and around Dubuque who received wire transfers from the victims.


Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Rodriguez remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. Rodriguez faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine, and 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.


Previously, on March 2, 2017, another individual, Shawn Vaassen, pled guilty to participating in the same scheme to defraud as Rodriguez. At his plea hearing, Vaassen admitted that he too was picking up wire transfers sent to the Dubuque area by victims of the scheme. At the same plea hearing, Vaassen also pled guilty to unlawfully possessing a sawed off shotgun.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy Vavricek and Anthony Morfitt and were investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Dubuque Police Department.


Court file information at

The case file numbers are 17-CR-1001 and 17-CR-1004.


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Updated May 10, 2017

Financial Fraud