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Press Release

Conover, N.C. Woman Is Charged With Mail Fraud And Identity Theft For Stealing More Than $300,000 From Elderly Couple

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Andrea Brawley, 45, of Conover, N.C., is facing federal charges for stealing more than $300,000 from two elderly relatives, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. A federal grand jury in Charlotte returned a criminal indictment this week, charging Brawley with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina and Sheriff Donald G. Brown II of the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to allegations in the indictment, from August 2016 to January 2023, Brawley engaged in a scheme to defraud the elderly couple identified in court documents as J.S. and M.S., by exploiting her relationship with the victims to steal their money and property. The indictment alleges that Brawley gained access to the victims’ personal and company bank accounts, which she was expected to use to manage the couple’s personal and business affairs and to pay routine bills. Instead, Brawley allegedly misused her access to transfer funds to herself, causing the victims to sustain significant financial losses. For example, Brawley allegedly failed to make payments due on the victims’ home equity line of credit on their residence. As a result, the victims’ residence went into foreclosure and the couple lost their home. Brawley also allegedly drained the victims’ retirement accounts by forging retirement distribution forms without the victims’ knowledge and consent, causing them further financial hardship. Over the course of the scheme, Brawley allegedly defrauded J.S. and M.S. and M.S.’s company of more than $300,000.

As alleged in the indictment, Brawley concealed the fraudulent scheme from J.S. and M.S. by making false representations about the cause of the foreclosure and about the state of J.S. and M.S.’s finances and personal affairs. The indictment alleges that Brawley also isolated J.S. and M.S. and limited their contact with their friends and family by taking the victims’ cell phones, impersonating them in communications with third parties, transporting them to various locations around the state, and preventing them from returning to their residence. The indictment further alleges that, in furtherance of the scheme, Brawley engaged in identity theft by using and attempting to use one or more means of identification that belonged to J.S. and M.S., including their names, addresses, and unique account numbers.

“Elder financial abuse continues to rise at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, when older adults are victims of financial exploitation it is incredibly difficult for them to recover financially and recoup their losses. And when the fraud is perpetrated by a trusted friend or close family member, the added emotional devastation can be overwhelming,” said U.S. Attorney King. “My Office’s elder financial exploitation cases receive the priority they deserve, and we are committed to doing all we can to combat elder financial abuse and ensure that older adults are supported and protected from fraud.”

“When you stop and consider the true impact of elder financial fraud, it is devastating. People should not work 40 years or longer only to have their life savings swindled away,” said Special Agent in Charge DeWitt. “The FBI will work tirelessly to protect the elderly and help educate them and those who love them, how not to fall victim to fraud.”

“My office is striving to combat the victimization of our older adults,” said Sheriff Brown. “Elder financial abuse often has a lasting and debilitating effect, especially when a close trust or confidence is violated. We will continue working with our local, state and federal partners to seek justice for these victims.”

The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The mail fraud offense carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term of incarceration imposed.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI in Charlotte and the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Billings with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is in charge of the prosecution.

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 10am-6pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.   

Updated July 20, 2023

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud