Two Californians charged in multi-million dollar tech support scam targeting elderly victims | USAO-WDPA

PITSBURG, Pennsylvania – A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted two residents of Santa Ana, California for conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to money laundering in connection with their participation in a scheme to defraud elderly victims in the United States.

The two-count indictment, on April 26, 2022, and it was revealed today, named Tin Phuc Tran, 32, and Tun Huynh Boy, 29, both of Santa Ana, California, as defendants. The brothers-in-law were arrested today in Santa Ana and will appear for the first time this afternoon in federal court in the Central District of California.

According to the indictment, from December 2020 to December 2021, Tran and Bowie participated in a multi-million dollar conspiracy to defraud seniors residing in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Allegedly, members of the conspiracy contacted potential victims on their computers through pop-up messages falsely claiming to be from reputable technology companies, convincing the victims that their financial accounts had been hacked and that their money needed to be transferred, thus gaining control of the victims’ computers and personal money. It is also alleged that conspiracy members used stolen personally identifiable information (PII) from additional unintended victims to open financial accounts and create email addresses to receive and transfer fraud proceeds. The conspirators also converted the victims’ stolen funds into cryptocurrency, and moved the funds through multiple accounts, including those of the accused, in an effort to conceal their fraudulent activities. The indictment alleges that one victim in the Western District of Pennsylvania caused retirement accounts to be liquidated totaling $1,288,073.

“The Department of Justice prioritizes protecting seniors from all types of financial crime,” said US Attorney Chung. “The alleged conspiracy members in this case preyed on this vulnerable population by convincing the victims that their personal funds were not safe and should be transferred to other accounts controlled by the defendants. My office will continue to seek justice for these victims and hold accountable those who commit fraudulent schemes against the elderly. Indeed One of the best ways to prevent financial fraud is to educate yourself about the many types of fraud.”

“Cybercriminals are targeting our elderly population at an ever-increasing rate,” said FBI agent Pittsburgh in charge Mike Nordwall. This plot targeted members of the larger population in western Pennsylvania and across the United States. In some cases, these criminals stole the life savings of unsuspecting and trusted seniors through social engineering, computer hacking, and other means. The FBI will continue to work to end these types of electronic schemes and help prevent elderly citizens from becoming victims.”

“Cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used to facilitate illicit activities,” said US Secret Service special agent in charge Timothy Burke. “We are proud to work with our partners to investigate schemes like the one in the indictment. At the Secret Service, we are committed to keeping pace with innovations in the financial system as we continue to protect Americans from fraud and other illegal activities.”

Millions of older Americans lose their money to financial scams and fraud every year. Fraudsters will attempt to contact victims in person, by phone, or through computer, radio, television advertisements, email, and text messages. They often press targets to act quickly. But everyone has the power to stop scammers and has the right to say ‘No’.

Six of the most common scams affecting older Americans are:
• Technical Support: Scammers pretend to be technical support and offer to fix fake computer problems. They ask the targets to give them access to their computers and steal their personal information.
Pretending to be utility companies: The fraudster threatens to shut down the utility service if payment is not made immediately.
• Online Shopping: Scammers pretend to be a real business but have a fake website or fake ad on a genuine retailer’s site.
• Business impersonators: Fraudsters send emails or text messages pretending to be a major retailer to get your money or personal information.
Government impersonation: fraudsters pretend to be government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute the targets unless they agree to pay an amount allegedly owed to the government.
• Romantic Scams: Scammers pretend to be interested romantic partners and convince targets to give them money for various fake reasons.

The best way to avoid being exploited is not to give out personal or financial information over the phone, email, or text message in response to a request. Victims of financial fraud are encouraged to call the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-372-8311.

To learn about the types of financial scams, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts or www.elderjustice.gov/sraduate-scam-alert.

The law provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or both. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based on the seriousness of the crimes and the previous criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

US Assistant Attorney General Robert S. Cesar and Stephen R. Kaufman this case on behalf of the government.

The investigation that led to the indictment in the case was conducted by the FBI and the US Secret Service.

indictment indictment. The accused is innocent unless proven guilty.

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