Phishing for Elderly Victims

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Thoughtful elderly man sitting alone at home with his walking cane

Senior citizens are susceptible to fraud because they are more likely to fall for phishing schemes. (We’re not talking about fishing here. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails that look legitimate to induce individuals to reveal personal info like passwords or account numbers.) Fraudsters lure their elderly victims into giving out their personal information, then use it to commit identity theft by gaining access to their personal and financial accounts.

A Long Island, N.Y. woman has been sentenced for orchestrating an identity theft and credit card fraud scheme that victimized dozens of people, many of them elderly. Lisa Reid was sentenced to 90 months in prison for her role in a scheme that defrauded credit card companies and their customers.

Reid attempted to fraudulently take over credit card accounts and use those accounts to make purchases from February 2015 to January 2017. Reid targeted affluent individuals by using public records to contact people living in wealthier neighborhoods. (This was a strategic and well thought out scheme.)

Under the guise of a credit card representative, Reid claimed that her company needed information from the individual about their account. Individuals would provide Reid with account information, which she then used to steal their identities. (It’s common to panic when you think something is wrong with your financial or credit card accounts.)

The next step in Reid’s plan was to take the credit card numbers and passwords she had collected and contact the credit card company pretending to be the owner of the card. Next, she would request that the credit card companies change the phone number and address associated with the account. (The new address was typically a foreclosed or abandoned property near Reid’s home that she had access to. How convenient.)

Reid then used the credit cards to fraudulently purchase merchandise from high-end retailers and have the items shipped to the addresses she had listed on the accounts. (She didn’t want to risk pulling a ‘Pretty Woman’ on Rodeo Drive.)  Reid or an associate of hers, would retrieve the packages from the shipping addresses and then proceed to sell them to a pawnshop for cash. (I’m not buying into the idea that she didn’t keep any of the purchases for herself.)

This identity scheme defrauded more than 50 individuals by using their credit card information to purchase over $1 million in merchandise. Sadly, many of the individuals exploited in this scam were senior citizens. Over $3.8 million dollars in attempted purchases were flagged as fraud by credit card companies. (That may just be enough for a few Louis Vuitton purses.)

Federal agents attempted to detain Reid at her home in December 2016 but were unsuccessful as she had already fled to Florida. (Probably not to go fishing, but to go phishing for more vulnerable senior citizens.) Reid committed more fraudulent credit card purchases while in Florida, including the purchase of a $50,000 Cartier watch. She was finally detained in February 2017 and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft shortly after.

Reid has a history of fraudulent behavior as she was previously convicted in October 2010 for federal bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Those charges resulted from a similar credit card scheme which defrauded victims out of more than a million dollars. She was sentenced to 27 months of imprisonment and five years of supervised release for those charges.

Her most recent credit card and identity theft scheme occurred while Reid was living in Long Island and still on supervised release from her charges in 2010.  (Seems like she didn’t learn from her mistakes the first time around.) Reid was sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay $1,009,235.69 in restitution to the credit card companies and the elderly victims she defrauded.

The Justice Department has established a National Elder Fraud Hotline to provide services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud. The Hotline’s toll-free number is 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “LI Woman Sentenced For $1M Scheme Targeting Senior Citizens,” published by Patch on August 17, 2020.

AMITYVILLE, NY — A Long Island woman was sentenced on Monday to nearly 8 years in prison and ordered to pay over $1 million in restitution for victimizing dozens of people in an identity theft and credit card fraud scheme, according to Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham.

Lisa Reid, 47, of Amityville, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 90 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.