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Two men indicted over alleged roles in 'grandparent scam'

PROVIDENCE (AP) — Two Rhode Island men have been indicted on charges of defrauding or trying to defraud older people out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be children or grandchildren in legal trouble who needed money, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Vidal Roquez, 35, and Schmitt Prado, 26, both of Providence, ran what authorities called the “grandparent scam” that targeted at least nine residents of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Providence.

They are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said. Emails seeking comment were left with their attorneys.

The victims were called by someone sounding upset or ill claiming to be a relative who had been arrested or jailed and asking for between $9,000 and $14,000 in cash, prosecutors said. The caller said someone would arrive at their home to pick up the money.

Authorities caught up with the men in February 2020 when a Little Compton resident contacted police after getting a call from a woman pretending to be his granddaughter who said she had been arrested and needed bail money. A man then came on the line, pretending to be an attorney, who told the victim that someone would come to the house to collect $9,000.

Police were at the house when Prado arrived to pick up the cash, prosecutors said.

Residents of Portsmouth, Tiverton, Cranston, South Kingstown, and Warwick, R.I., as well as Shrewsbury, Northborough, and Weston, Mass., were also targeted, prosecutors said.

 

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