Two Texas Women Sentenced to Federal Prison for Involvement in Transnational Elder Fraud Scheme
TYLER, Texas – Two Texas women have each been sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for conspiracy charges in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
Pamela Sue Hannan, 68, of Sherman, and Pamela Sue Jennings, 69, of Houston, pleaded guilty on August 6, 2020, to conspiring with foreign co-conspirators to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and were sentenced to 24 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker today.
“Today’s sentences send a clear message that schemes targeting elderly victims will not be tolerated, and those facilitating such schemes will be held accountable,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “By acting as domestic money transmitters for foreign co-conspirators, these defendants played fundamental roles that allowed foreign actors to reach from overseas to target elderly victims in communities across the United States. Bringing the remaining perpetrators to justice remains a priority for this office.”
According to information presented in court, over the course of several years, Hannan and Jennings received funds from romance scam victims and from victims of other fraudulent schemes on behalf of their co-conspirators, who were based outside of the United States. In order to facilitate the scheme, Hannan and Jennings opened bank accounts in the names of businesses which purported to provide legitimate services. In reality, Hannan and Jennings used these businesses as fronts to facilitate the money transmitting scheme. Together, Hannan and Jennings received more than $4.1 million from victims of the schemes. Hannan and Jennings transferred the majority of the funds they received to their co-conspirators’ foreign bank accounts.
Hannan and Jennings were indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 16, 2019.
In October 2017, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) was signed into law. The EAPPA’s purpose is to increase the federal government’s focus on preventing elder abuse and exploitation. Subsequently, the Department of Justice launched the Elder Justice Initiative (EJI). Through the EJI, the Department has participated in hundreds of criminal and civil enforcement actions involving misconduct that targeted vulnerable seniors. In March of last year, the Department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 400 defendants in a nationwide sweep. The Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country. The EJI website contains useful information, including educational resources about prevalent financial scams so you can guard against them.
In August of 2020, the Eastern District of Texas announced its own initiative, in partnership with law enforcement and private financial institutions, to identify and prosecute transnational elder fraud. This EDTX initiative is designed to combat these criminal organization, both foreign and domestic, as well their networks of associates and money mules who launder the stolen funds.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Sherman Police Department, and the Appleton (Wisconsin) Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld.
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