Five people have been apprehended after the Harrison Police Department and authorities from multiple states uncovered a multi-national "Grandparent scam" in which an elderly Harrison woman was conned out of more than $300,000.
The Harrison Police Department launched an intensive three-month investigation upon receiving a complaint of fraud from an elderly female resident.
The 92-year-old victim was deceived into depositing over $300,000 into various bank accounts after receiving a call from a police impersonator in September, Harrison Police said. The caller, who identified himself as a police sergeant, advised the victim that her grandson was incarcerated and directed the victim to deposit the money into their accounts, for the release of her grandson.
The five suspects acted together, according to Harrison Police, and have been charged with grand larceny:
* Sylvester Odiase, 34, of Edgewater, NJ
* Rachell Odiase, 54, of Bronx
* Cecilia Rivera, 32, of Brooklyn
* Brittany Yearling, 32, of Missouri, TX
* Marquelle Collins, 28, of Bound Brook, NJ,
Sylvester Odiase and Rachell Odiase are awaiting arraignment, Marquelle Collins and Brittany Yearling are awaiting their next court appearance, and Cecilia Rivera is being held at the Westchester County Jail on $100,000 cash bail, police said.
The Harrison Police Department said its investigators implemented electronic and physical surveillance to track down the suspects, which led them throughout the tristate area and the state of Texas, where arrests were made.
In addition, search warrants were executed in the Bronx and in New Jersey and evidence of their crimes were found and seized.
The scam is believed to have originated in Canada and several of the arrested suspects are originally from Nigeria, which is a known hotbed for phone and internet scams.
The scheme, known as the “Grandma Scam” or “Grandparent Scam” due to the prevalence of fraudsters targeting the elderly, convinces victims to transmit money to the suspects by various means. There are numerous variations of the scam, which are very convincing and occurring throughout the country.
Residents have been cautioned not to fall victim to the scam and to contact police immediately upon receiving a suspicious call from anyone requesting money to be wired or deposited into an unknown bank account.
The Harrison Police Department worked on the investigation in conjunction with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Organized Crime Bureau, Bergen County NJ District Attorney’s Office and Missouri City Texas Police Department.
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