CHARLESTON - Three people who posed as family and clergymen have been indicted for scamming senior citizens, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia said.
The alleged scheme netted the three more than $60,000 in one week from senior citizens in West Virginia and elsewhere, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. They were charged with federal fraud charges, he said.
The 12-count indictment unsealed this week accused Kacey K. Moise, 38, of Elmont, N.Y., Charnita E. Ryland, 21, of Montgomery, Md., and Sheray J. McKay, 21, of Suitland, Md., with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, Goodwin said.
Moise was arrested on Monday in Elmont, N.Y., Goodwin said.
The indictment describes the defendants' fraudulent tactics, which included posing as family of their elderly victims and pretending to be clergymen, Goodwin said. After establishing their victims' trust, the defendants claimed to be facing a financial emergency and asked the victims to wire money right away, Goodwin said.
"Scams to steal from older West Virginians are downright shameful," Goodwin said. "Protecting our state's senior citizens is one of my top priorities, and in 2014, we're going to work harder than ever to catch criminals who cheat seniors."
According to the indictment, beginning around Nov. 7, 2012, and continuing through Nov. 13, 2012, Moise, Ryland and McKay participated in a scheme to solicit money from 18 elderly individuals who resided in West Virginia and other states. As part of the scheme, numerous elderly individuals were called at their homes and asked for money under false pretenses, the indictment said.
It was a part of the scheme that the callers, posing as family members or clergymen of the elderly citizens, or lawyers for the so-called family members or clergymen, often falsely stated that they had been in car accidents, had been arrested for driving while intoxicated, and needed money to get out of jail, pay attorney's fees and make reimbursement for the damage allegedly caused by their accidents.
The callers then provided specific instructions to wire the requested funds including how much to wire and where to send the wire transfers. In many instances, the elderly individuals made several wire transfers at the repeated requests of the callers despite their limited funds.
The defendants charged in the indictment picked up the funds from the wire transfers in Maryland and New York. The victims targeted in the alleged scheme ranged in age from 70- to 95-years old.
Ryland and McKay were previously arrested in Maryland in December and are each scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Dwayne L. Tinsley this week to be arraigned, Goodwin said.
Moise is expected to appear before Tinsley on Jan. 23 for arraignment, Goodwin said.
They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Today's charges are part of Goodwin's work to protect West Virginia's senior citizens. Over the past few years, Goodwin has visited senior center locations in West Virginia counties to offer tips to protect seniors in their homes and help them avoid financial scams like this one. Additional information regarding this initiative can be found at www.justice.gov/usao/wvs/safe-seniors.html