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Justice News

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

Monday, March 29, 2021

Two Florida men plead guilty to running “Grandparent Scam” in Northern Ohio

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that John Tyler Pla, 25, and Johnny Lee Palmer, 26, both of Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty to operating a “Grandparent Scam” in the Northern District of Ohio that caused their victims a combined loss of $383,932. Pla and Palmer both entered pleas of guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.

According to court documents, from July 20, 2020 to August 28, 2020, Pla and Palmer orchestrated a “Grandparent Scam” targeting elderly victims in Northern Ohio cities, including Brecksville, Parma, Gates Mills, Lorain, Mansfield, Fairview Park, Westlake and Mentor. A member of the scheme would call elderly victims claiming to be a relative or an attorney for that relative and claim the family member had been arrested and, as a result, required money for bail. A member of the scheme would then make arrangements with the victim to collect the money through a “courier.”  Instead, Pla, Palmer, or a member of the scheme would travel to the victim’s residence and collect the money.  In total, the victims suffered a combined loss of $383,932.

Pla and Palmer are scheduled to be sentenced on July 26, 2021.

The investigation was conducted by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and the Westlake Police Department. This case is being 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.

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Daniel Ball
Updated March 29, 2021