San Diego, CA–Two more members of a network that operated and facilitated a large-scale “grandparent scam” pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering conspiracy.
Lyda Harris, 74, of Laveen, Arizona, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday after being extradited to the United States from Albania on Nov. 12, 2021. Tracy Glinton, 35, of Orlando, Florida, pleaded guilty on June 9. Of the eight defendants indicted in this case, six were arrested; all six have now pleaded guilty. The remaining two defendants remain at large.
According to court documents, the defendants were members and associates of a network of individuals who, through extortion and fraud, induced elderly Americans across the United States to pay thousands to tens of thousands of dollars each to purportedly help their grandchild or other close family relatives. Members of the network contacted elderly Americans by telephone and impersonated a grandchild, other close relative, or friend of the victim. They falsely convinced the victims that their relatives were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, for medical expenses for car accident victims or to prevent additional charges from being filed. The defendants and their co-conspirators then received money from victims via various means, including in-person pickup, mail, and wire transfer, and laundered the proceeds, including through cryptocurrency.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will continue to investigate and prosecute criminals who target elderly Americans and take advantage of their concern for loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are grateful to our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and the FBI in advancing the department’s efforts against organized elder fraud, and to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.”
“Scammers continue to target our elderly population at an ever-increasing rate across the country. These defendants intentionally preyed upon and systematically stole from their victims without a second thought,” said Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office.
Harris and Glinton pleaded guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Harris is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30, and Glinton is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Two additional defendants have been charged but have not been arrested.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Diego Field Office, North County Resident Agency, with critical assistance from investigators of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).