Three men from Rhode Island have been ordered to pay over $800,000 in restitution for their roles in a scam targeting grandparents in Rhode Island.
Bryan Valdez-Espinosda and Diego A. Alarcon, both 22 and from Union City, New Jersey, were brought into the con by Jason Hatcher, 40, of New York City.
More than a dozen Rhode Island seniors were contacted by the trio, who posed as relatives or attorneys, convincing some of them to withdraw large quantities of cash in the process. According to a statement from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, victims who were targeted by the con artists were told that the money would be used to help a grandchild or other relative who had been arrested and needed it to make bail or who had been injured in a car crash.
The money, they were told, had to be in the form of cash and that a courier — either Valdez-Espinosa, Hatcher or Alarcon — would come by their home to collect it.
In total, fourteen known victims, ranging in age from 79 to 94, were convinced to transfer money to the two younger participants.
Valdez-Espinoza, Alarcon, and Hatcher successfully collected over a quarter-million dollars from their scheme until it came to an end when the three first pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud:
On Friday, Alarcon was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to 30 months of incarceration to be followed by 3 years of federal supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution totaling $304,081; Valdez-Espinosa was sentenced by Judge Smith on February 13, 2023, to 30 months of incarceration to be followed by 3 years of federal supervised release, and to pay restitution in the amount of $262,240; Jason Hatcher was sentenced on November 21, 2022, to 33 months in federal prison followed by three years of federal supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution totaling $304,081.
Law enforcement officers were only alerted to the scam after the relative of one of the victims intervened before the fake courier.