WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a release on Friday, July 8, that two scammers have been convicted for their involvement in a large-scale “grandparent scam” that resulted in the theft of thousands of dollars from elderly Americans.

According to the DOJ’s release, 74-year-old Lyda Harris, of Laveen, Arizona, and 35-year-old Tracy Glinton, of Orlando, Florida, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. The DOJ also noted that Harris had been extradited to the U.S. from Albania on Nov. 12, 2021.

Members in the network responsible for the grandparent scam contacted elderly individuals by phone and impersonated a grandchild, another close relative or friend of the victim to get money, according to the DOJ. While impersonating victims’ loved ones, the scammers used a variety of tactics to receive money, including telling victims that their relatives were in legal trouble, lacked funds for medical expenses or needed money to prevent additional charges from being filed. The scammers then received money from the victims through in-person pickup, cryptocurrency, mail and wire transfer, before laundering the proceeds, the DOJ said.

“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will continue to investigate and prosecute criminals who target elderly Americans and take advantage of their concern for loved ones,” Brian M. Boynton, head of the department’s Civil Division, said in the release.

Harris and Glinton pleaded guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and both are set to be sentenced in September. They each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Based on court documents, Harris and Glinton were part of the network of individuals who persuaded elderly victims across the country to pay up to tens of thousands of dollars each to supposedly help their family member or friend. So far, eight people have been indicted in this case, according to the DOJ. Six of those individuals were arrested and pleaded guilty, while two are still at-large.

The FBI’s San Diego Field Office, North County Resident Agency, has been working on this case with help from local investigators.

“Scammers continue to target our elderly population at an ever-increasing rate across the country. These defendants intentionally preyed upon and systematically stole from their victims without a second thought,” said Stacey Moy, a special agent in charge at the FBI’s San Diego Field Office.

“These guilty pleas send a clear message that the FBI is committed to identifying, investigating, and bringing to justice those who are committing financial crimes. The FBI will continue to work with our partners on the San Diego’s Elder Justice Task Force to protect our elders,” Moy added in the DOJ’s release.

Anyone who has been a victim, or who knows of someone who has been a victim, of elder financial fraud is encouraged to contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).