Nigerian Citizen Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Over $260,000 from Dozens of Victims, Including the Elderly
SHREVEPORT/LAFAYETTE/ALEXANDRIA/LAKE CHARLES/MONROE, La. – Today, U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph joined Attorney General William P. Barr and the entire Department of Justice in observing the 15th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Department echoes voices around the world condemning elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
“Despite the care and respect that most of us give to our elders, there are some in our society that intentionally target and seek to exploit the elderly with false promises and fraudulent schemes” said U.S. Attorney Joseph. “My office will continue working with our law enforcement partners to bring these fraudsters to justice and protect the elderly.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our country and the world, but among those most severely affected by the threat of the novel virus are our senior citizens. During this time when seniors are most vulnerable and isolated from their families and loved ones by social distancing and quarantine restrictions, bad actors have immediately exploited this international tragedy to prey on the elderly through a whole host of scam and fraud schemes. As the world takes this day to remember the elderly during these uncertain times, the Department of Justice remains relentlessly committed, through its department-wide Elder Justice Initiative, to prevent and prosecute fraud on America’s seniors.
The Department will aggressively prosecute fraudsters exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic and targeting seniors offering them fake testing kits and fake help obtaining stimulus and Paycheck Protection Program Funds. On this day dedicated to recognizing our seniors, the Department of Justice sends a strong message that we continue the fight to keep seniors safe a top priority.
A recent example in the Western District of Louisiana involved a multimillion-dollar investment scheme that targeted elderly victims and others. Gregory Alan Smith, 58, of Shreveport, and Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 66, a senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty for their roles in stealing millions from elderly victims and others. Smith used his influence and status as the operator and manager of Smith Financial Group LLC in Shreveport, and Caldwell used his influence and status as pastor at a prominent Houston church to lure investors into sinking their money into what they thought were high-return investments. Instead of investing the money, the defendants divided the funds and used them to pay personal loans, mortgages, credit card balances, a down payment for vacation property, luxury vehicles purchases and to maintain their lifestyles.
Earlier this year Attorney General Barr declared “Prevention and Disruption of Transnational Elder Fraud” to be an Agency Priority Goal, making it one of the Department’s four top priorities. Major strides have already been made to that end:
For more information on enforcement actions, training and resources, research, and victim services, please visit www.justice.gov/elderjustice.
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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.