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Press Release

Two Florida Men Sentenced for Running Grandparent Scam in Northern Ohio

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

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that two Tampa, Florida men were sentenced today by U.S. Judge Pamela A. Barker for operating a “Grandparent Scam” that targeted elderly victims in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere and caused victims a combined total loss of $383,932.

John Tyler Pla, 25, was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment, and Johnny Lee Palmer, 26, was sentenced to 33 months imprisonment.  Both Pla and Palmer were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $383,932 to their victims.  Pla and Palmer both previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.

According to court records, from July 20, 2020, to August 28, 2020, Pla and Palmer orchestrated a “Grandparent Scam” that targeted elderly victims in Northern Ohio cities, including Brecksville, Parma, Gates Mills, Lorain, Mansfield, Fairview Park, Westlake and Mentor.

Other members of the scheme would call elderly victims pretending to be a relative or an attorney for that relative and claim that the family member had been arrested and, as a result, required money for bail.  A member of the scheme would then arrange with the victim to collect the money through a purported “courier.”  Instead, Pla or Palmer would travel to the victim’s residence and collect the money. 

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


Daniel Ball

Updated March 6, 2024

Elder Justice