Maple Heights man sentenced to 39 months for elder fraud scheme
Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that Andrew V. Thomas, 35, of Maple Heights, Ohio, was sentenced on Tuesday, March 20, to 39 months imprisonment by U.S. Judge Donald C. Nugent. Thomas pleaded guilty in December of 2020 to wire fraud and aggravated identify theft. Thomas devised a scheme to defraud three elderly victims out of more than $62,000.
“Mr. Thomas targeted multiple elderly victims, including one suffering from dementia, and stole their hard-earned life savings,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan. “Working with our partners to raise awareness about such schemes, protecting aging and vulnerable populations, and prosecuting those who seek to exploit others for personal gain is an important part of the work we do every day at the Department of Justice.”
“This individual took advantage of his position to financially victimize elderly customers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “It is imperative that we as a community educate and look out for our elderly who are often targets of financial scams. Mr. Thomas will now be held accountable for the fraud and deception he perpetrated against the more trusting and vulnerable among us. The FBI will continue collaborative efforts to inform and educate older communities and their caregivers and aggressively investigate allegations like this wherever and whenever appropriate.”
According to court documents, from November 2018 to November 2019, Thomas was employed as a Call Center Representative for an insurance company with an office in Cleveland, Ohio, tasked with speaking to clients and their agents regarding annuities, updating client bank account information and processing withdrawal transactions.
During this time, Thomas devised a scam to defraud three elderly victims by transferring money from his victim’s annuities into his personal bank accounts. Court documents state that Victim 1 was an 84-year-old woman in Avon, Connecticut; Victim 2, an 83-year woman with dementia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Victim 3, a 96-year-old woman and a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, were all victims of the scheme to defraud.
Victim 1, Victim 2’s power of attorney and Victim 3 all called Thomas to inquire about a policy-related matter. Thomas spoke to all of the victims or their agents and had access to their accounts.
Thomas would then use the company’s computer system to make unauthorized transfers from the annuities of Victim 1, Victim 2 and Victim 3 into his personal bank accounts. As a result of the unauthorized transfers, Victim 1, Victim 2 and Victim 3 suffered a total loss of approximately $62,600.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian McDonough.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps.
Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis.
Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses.
The hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.