Two men who pleaded guilty to taking part in a nationwide racketeering scheme targeting the elderly, which took more than $300,000 from at least 10 San Diego County residents, were sentenced Wednesday to federal prison terms.
Timothy Ingram, 30, of North Hollywood, and 46-year-old Florida resident Joaquin Lopez were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in a scam that took over $2 million from more than 70 senior citizens across the nation.
In sentences handed down in San Diego federal court, Ingram received nine years in prison, while Lopez received a two-year term.
Of the eight people charged in the scheme, six have pleaded guilty, while two remain at large.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the defendants phoned seniors and falsely claimed their grandchildren were in legal trouble and needed money to resolve fabricated issues such as paying for bail, medical expenses or to prevent additional criminal charges from being filed against them.
Prosecutors say the defendants conducted cash pickups from victims and also recruited and supervised “mules” to make similar collections. The money was then laundered either by transferring the funds or converting the money into cryptocurrency, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors allege Ingram coordinated the money collections and provided mules with victim addresses, names and other information. Most of his activities took place in California, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office says he also sent mules out of state. One cash pickup he conducted himself took $42,000 from a 76-year-old victim in Los Angeles County, prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Lopez provided the other defendants with bank accounts where wire transfers from victims could be received and distributed.
“These defendants were crucial members of a sophisticated criminal organization that shamelessly exploited the grandparents’ love for their grandchildren,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “The long-lasting effects of this crime on our seniors and the community cannot be overstated. The victims were financially and emotionally devastated by callous people who thought only of enriching themselves.”
City News Service contributed to this article.