Connecticut Man Charged with Fraud Scheme Involving Elderly Victims
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin
MADISON, WIS. – In an indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury sitting in Madison, Wisconsin, a Connecticut man is charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud. The indictment is announced by Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Hensle.
The indictment charges Matthew Ramos-Soto, 26, Hartford, Connecticut, with conspiring with others to defraud Wisconsin residents. The indictment alleges that from October 24 to 28, 2022, unknown conspirators contacted elderly individuals by telephone and falsely represented that a relative had been arrested following an accident and that money for bail was needed. The indictment further alleges that Ramos-Soto and his co-conspirators traveled throughout Wisconsin to pick up cash in person from the targeted individuals.
“Elder fraud is a serious issue, and we’re committed to combating it,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you to those in Wisconsin DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation and the other public safety professionals whose work led to this charge.”
“Unfortunately, scams targeting the elderly or vulnerable are proliferating. If someone demands money over the phone or internet, always reach out to a trusted advisor, law enforcement agency, or the fraud hotlines described below,” said U.S. Attorney O’Shea. “My office is committed to working with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who target vulnerable individuals for financial gain.”
“I commend our long list of local and state law enforcement partners in bringing this perpetrator to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Hensle. “Elder fraud is a serious crime. Many of our senior citizens are targeted by unscrupulous individuals seeking to exploit their vulnerabilities, taking advantage of their trust, and causing significant financial and emotional harm. The FBI will continue to work with our partners and ensure that justice is served.”
The indictment alleges that co-conspirators impersonated attorneys or judges, provided victims with false file or case numbers, and warned them that there was “a gag order” in their relative’s court case and their relative could face additional consequences if the victim told anyone about the situation. Victims were instructed to go to their financial institutions to withdraw the needed money in cash and to provide a false reason for the withdrawal to their financial institution.
The indictment alleges that the Ramos-Soto and his co-conspirators obtained approximately $200,000 during the five days of the conspiracy in October 2022. The indictment alleges three specific incidents in Wisconsin, including $5,000 from an individual in Wrightstown, $17,545 from an individual in Fitchburg, and $12,500 from an individual in Hobart.
Ramos-Soto is in custody in Michigan. A date for his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison has not been set. If convicted, Ramos-Soto faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
U.S. Attorney O’Shea, Attorney General Kaul, and Special Agent in Charge Hensle urge Wisconsin residents to be alert to financial fraud schemes that target the elderly and to talk to family and friends about recognizing common scams. If you suspect fraud has occurred or been attempted, report it to authorities so that those who commit fraud can be identified. The U.S. Justice Department operates the National Elder Fraud Hotline which can be reached at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311), which is staffed by case managers who provide personalized support to callers. Wisconsin residents can also contact their county elder abuse helpline or the Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-833-586-0107.
The charge against Ramos-Soto is the result of an investigation led by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, following a Statewide Crime Alert by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office that connected several investigations across Wisconsin. The other agencies involved in the investigation are the Outagamie, Shawano, Manitowoc, and Brown County Sheriffs’ Offices; and the New Lisbon, Wrightstown, Fitchburg, Reedsburg, Randolph, Fox Valley Metro, Hobart Lawrence, Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin is handling the prosecution.
You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Updated October 12, 2023