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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two Indicted For Grandparent Fraud Scheme

Two Plattsburgh Women Indicted for Participation in Grandparent Fraud Scheme

PLATTSBURGH, NEW YORK – Christie Joseph, 24, and Naromie Joseph, 28, were arrested on April 3, 2015 after a federal grand jury indicted them for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Kennedy. The defendants appeared in federal court in Plattsburgh on April 6, 2015 and were detained pending a detention hearing set for April 9, 2015 at 8:30 am. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence that includes 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

According to the indictment, the Josephs picked up money which elderly people had sent believing that they were sending money to benefit their grandchildren who were in trouble. As alleged in the indictment, the elderly victims had been contacted by people who told them that their grandchildren needed money for bail and other purposes; once the money arrived at various addresses in Plattsburgh, the Josephs picked it up and delivered it to others.

"As alleged, these two defendants preyed upon the love of relatives and manufactured an emergency situation to get money," explained United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. "Citizens should confirm the existence of a family emergency before taking financial steps to assist a loved one."

"These types of scams, while nothing new, are becoming increasingly pervasive and sophisticated," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Kennedy. "And more often than not, these unscrupulous scammers are targeting the elderly, which is why HSI is urging the public to act as their first line of defense by taking some very basic precautions." Prevention tips are listed below.

The United States Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations would like to remind the public of the following:

  • Be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly asking for cash.
  • Verify any supposed emergency, by calling friends and family, before sending money.
  • Develop a secret code or "password" with family members that can be used to verify a true emergency.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly.
  • Try to contact another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
  • Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail...especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash-once you send it, you can’t get it back.

Contact Homeland Security Investigations at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or submit at ice.gov/tips or contact local authorities or state consumer protection agency if you think you’ve been victimized.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Assistant United States Attorney Katherine Kopita is prosecuting the case. The Plattsburgh Police Department originated the investigation and partnered with Homeland Security Investigations throughout. The United States Postal Service, Clinton County Sheriff's Office, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Project COLT also participated.

Updated April 8, 2015