Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Two women who pleaded guilty to taking part in a nationwide year-long scam targeting the elderly were sentenced Thursday in San Diego federal court.

At least 10 San Diego County residents lost more than $300,000 due to the actions of Anajah Gifford, 24, of North Hollywood, and Tracy Glinton, 35, of Orlando.

In all, 70 senior citizens fell victim to the scam between November of 2019 and October of 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They lost more than $2 million.

Gifford received a prison sentence of nearly five years, while Glinton received a sentence of time served. Other co-defendants have received prison sentences ranging from two to nine years.

Prosecutors said the defendants phoned seniors and falsely claimed their grandchildren were in legal trouble. They told the victims their loved ones needed to pay for bail, medical expenses or to prevent criminal charges being filed against them.

The defendants then conducted cash pickups from victims and also recruited and supervised “mules” to make similar collections. The money was laundered either by transferring the funds or converting it into cryptocurrency, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In Gifford’s plea agreement, she admitted to making cash pick-ups in person and recruiting mules in California. In addition to the prison sentence, Gifford was ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to the victims and forfeit $52,750 she received from the offense.

Glinton helped a co-defendant “receive proceeds from co-conspirators who obtained victim funds,” according to the prosecutors, who said Glinton was aware the money she received was taken from scam victims. She was ordered to pay $471,600 in victim restitution and forfeit $9,950 in proceeds she received.

Of the eight people charged in the scheme, six have pleaded guilty, while two remain at large.

U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman called the crime “a particularly sophisticated grandparent scam enterprise that callously and shamelessly targeted the elderly across our country.”

The sentencing of Gifford and Glinton “hold the defendants accountable not only for the financial losses, but also the deep and long-lasting psychological damage their crimes can cause their victims.”

– City News Service