U.S. Attorney Parker announces cases involved in National Elder Justice Sweep
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio – United States Attorney Kenneth L. Parker announced today that nine prosecutions in the Southern District of Ohio are included in the Department of Justice’s National Elder Justice Sweep. The initiative also includes outreach within the Southern District of Ohio to connect with the District’s senior citizens.
“Elder fraud schemes can be devastating to senior citizen victims and their families,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “My office is firmly committed to working with the community to prevent these crimes, and to using all available tools – both civil and criminal – to address those who prey on the trust and emotions of some of our most vulnerable people in the community.”
U.S. Attorney Parker announced his office is partnering with AARP Ohio to conduct outreach to senior citizens located in the Southern District of Ohio. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is distributing materials to AARP members about how to prevent elder abuse, the types of abuse and resources for reporting suspected fraud.
“There were more than $86 million in scam losses reported in Ohio last year, but the true cost is much higher,” said AARP Ohio State Director Holly Holtzen. “AARP Ohio is working hard to help people spot and avoid these criminal scams, but education alone is not enough. We are proud to partner with the Department of Justice and commend their efforts to stand up for seniors and bring these criminals to justice.”
The national law enforcement sweep announced today includes filed cases with events happening between Sept. 1, 2021, and Sept. 16, 2022.
The cases in the Southern District of Ohio include romance scams, investment fraud, embezzlement, marketing scams and government imposters.
In U.S. v. Seth Nyamekye, the defendant and co-conspirators created profiles on online dating sites and cultivated romantic relationships with elderly victims who they then convinced to send money for investments that did not exist. A federal jury convicted Nyamekye of 35 counts of money laundering and related fraud counts in June 2022 following a two-week trial in Columbus.
Defendants related to U.S. v. Samuel Antwi committed a similar online romance fraud scheme. In this case, the eight co-conspirators convinced victims to send money or to share their personal financial information. The defendants in this case, which was filed in Columbus, have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging form 18 months to 42 months.
In the Cincinnati case U.S. v. Delove Kofi Amuzu, Amuzu and others led victims to believe they were in romantic relationships and needed money for things such as medical bills, plane tickets and other valuable items. Amuzu was indicted in January 2022 and his charges remain pending.
Investment Fraud Scams
Shahiydullah Binraymond was sentenced in Columbus in April 2022 to 44 months in prison for defrauding an elderly couple. Binraymond executed a sophisticated scheme to get the victims to transfer real estate property to him.
In Dayton, Steven L. Humphrey pleaded guilty in May 2022 to committing wire fraud and defrauding an elderly victim of $1 million. Humphrey convinced the elderly victim to invest approximately $250,000 in rubber, classic cars and bitcoin. In fact, Humphrey was using the money for automobiles, clothes, fishing gear and firearms.
Mark Alan Thomas pleaded guilty in federal court in Columbus in June 2022 to mail fraud. Thomas stole more than half a million dollars from an elderly victim with dementia while acting as the woman’s power of attorney.
In U.S. v. Mary-Helene Massullo, D.O., which was indicted in August 2022, telemarketers allegedly targeted Medicare and Medicaid recipients as part of a pain cream scheme. It is alleged that Massullo authorized authorized pain creams for recipients without ever seeing or examining them. The victims were then harassed with telemarketing calls.
In February 2022, Sagarkumar Patel pleaded guilty to mail fraud crimes. In this case, call center scammers identifying themselves as government officials contacted elderly victims and convinced them that warrants would be issued for their arrest unless the victims mailed the scammers large sums of money.
In U.S. v. Christopher Thornton, the defendant called an elderly victim claiming to be a federal officer who was collecting delinquent taxes and fees on the victim’s property. Thornton told the victim if she did not pay immediately her property would be seized by the government. The defendant signed a pretrial diversion agreement in March 2022.
Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth Affeldt is the Elder Justice Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Affeldt and Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Garcia, Peter K. Glenn-Applegate, Noah R. Litton, Rob Painter, Timothy Prichard, S. Courter Shimeall and David Twombly represented the United States in these cases.
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Updated October 4, 2022