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Press Release

Grandparent Scammer Sentenced to Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, RI – A New York City man who traveled to various U.S. locations, including Rhode Island, to pick-up thousands of dollars in cash provided by seniors who had become the unsuspecting victims of so called “grandparent scams,” has been sentenced to federal prison and ordered to repay scam victims more than three quarters of a million dollars, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Jean Richard Audate, 38, was sentenced on Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to 30 months of incarceration to be followed by three years of federal supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a total of $867,149 to victims of the scam. Audate pleaded guilty on February 24, 2023, to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud.

According to information presented to the court, in January 2021, New Haven, CT, Police began to receive reports from out-of-state police departments that elderly residents in their areas had been defrauded out of large amounts of money through a grandparent scam. A broader investigation by the New Haven Police and the FBI revealed that members of the conspiracy contacted elderly victims throughout the United States, including in Rhode Island, by telephone. Posing as the victim’s grandchild, a relative, a lawyer, or other individual, members of the conspiracy falsely told the victim that a relative, typically the victim’s grandchild or child, had been arrested or incarcerated in connection with a car accident, and that the relative needed money for bail or related legal expenses.

To conceal the crime and prevent victims from sharing information about the calls and requests for money, members of the conspiracy falsely told victims that a “gag order” was in place in their relative’s legal matter that prohibited the victim from sharing information with anyone else. In numerous instances, at the direction of others, Audate traveled to various locations where he retrieved the cash payments that, as directed by the scammers, had been shipped by the victims to designated addresses.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams.

United States Attorney Cunha thanks the Lincoln, RI, and Brookline, MA, Police Departments for their assistance in the investigation.

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Contact

Jim Martin

(401 ) 709-5357

Updated February 29, 2024

Topics
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-20