SAN DIEGO – A 25-year-old California man was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to 46 months in prison for scamming over 70 elderly victims, including at least 10 people from San Diego County, in a more than $2 million fraud scheme, prosecutors said.

Jack Owuor, of Paramount, pleaded guilty to participating in a large-scale “grandparent scam” racketeering conspiracy with seven others, Kelly Thornton with the Office of the United States Attorney Southern District of California stated in a release.

“From approximately November 1, 2019, until October 14, 2020, the members of the criminal enterprise targeted elderly Americans, contacting them by phone and feeding them phony stories that their grandchildren were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, pay medical expenses for car accident victims, or prevent additional charges from being filed,” Thornton said. 

The victims paid the criminal group through in-person cash pick-ups, by mail or commercial carriers or via wire transfers, according to attorney officials. Proceeds were laundered either through transferring the funds or converting from fiat currency to cryptocurrency.

Court documents revealed Owuor, under the direction of co-defendant Timothy Ingram, personally conducted cash pick-ups from victims, once receiving $33,000 in cash from three different victims in a single day, prosecutors said. Other mules were recruited and also used for cash pick-ups.

Victim names, addresses, relatives’ names, false names and occupations were exchanged through text between Ingram and Owuor, the court documents stated. Owuor was ordered to forfeit $4,300 in proceeds he personally received from the offense, and to pay $434,600 to the victims in restitution.

Meanwhile, five of the eight defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, prosecutors said. Two defendants are fugitives and remain at large.