SAN DIEGO – An 84-year-old San Diego man was charged with more than two dozen felonies in connection to an alleged fraud scheme that bilked more than $1 million from an elderly Southern California woman, the Ventura County District Attorney’s office said.
Worthey Tobe Smith, Jr. was arraigned Monday in Ventura County Superior Court on 26 charges, including conspiracy, receiving stolen property and money laundering, District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said in a release. Smith denies the charges.
According to Nasarenko, Smith and an unidentified co-conspirator in 2020 lured the woman into believing she’d won a “large grant.” They allegedly told the woman she needed to contribute money before receiving the payout, ultimately obtaining 24 checks from her for a total amount of nearly $1.2 million.
Smith is accused of negotiating 22 of them and then converting $1 million of that total into cashier’s checks and sending them to another involved individual in Michigan. He’s also alleged to have taken a debit card linked to the victim that he used to take some $15,000 from her via unauthorized ATM withdrawals.
In a statement, Nasarenko said his office is grateful to police “for their investigative efforts in this alleged elder fraud case.”
“Our prosecutors will continue to work with law enforcement and victims to charge appropriate felonies that target our vulnerable residents,” Nasarenko said.
Smith is due back in court Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. for a bail review hearing. He is slated to attend an early disposition conference on the case April 27.
He remains in custody at Ventura County Jail.