MIAMI — On Aug. 6, a federal district judge in West Palm Beach sentenced a Georgia woman to 145 months in prison for leading a scam that tricked over 250 elderly South Floridians into turning over their credit cards, debit cards, and related personal identification numbers. The defendant and her co-conspirators used the cards and PINs to steal over $1.4 million.
Over approximately four years starting in 2016, Edtronda Simon, 41, of Fayette County, ran an elder fraud scheme that generally operated as follows: Simon would cold-call elderly victims in South Florida, pretend to be from the fraud department of each senior’s bank, and convince the seniors that their accounts had been compromised, which was not true. Once a senior seemed convinced, Simon would offer to send a “bank representative” to the elderly victim’s home to exchange any compromised credit or debit card with a new one. Usually with Simon still on the call trying to persuade the senior to verify a PIN number, a co-conspirator would arrive at the victim’s home, take the victim’s credit or debit card, and promise to return with a new one (which, of course, never happened). The co-conspirators used the seniors’ credit cards, debit cards, and PINs to withdraw cash from ATMs, purchase money orders, and otherwise drain money from the accounts as quickly as possible – before real bank fraud representatives caught on to the illegal activity.
Simon and her co-conspirators convinced over 250 seniors from Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Indian River and other South Florida counties into turning over debit cards, credit cards, and related information. They defrauded banks of over $1 million.
On May 25, Simon pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft (case no. 20-cr-80081). In a separate case (20-cr-80037), Simon’s co-conspirators also pled guilty to their roles in the scheme and received the following prison sentences: The co-defendants received the following prison sentences:
• Samuel Charles received 40 months
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brian Swain, special agent in charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), made the announcement.
USSS Miami and PBSO handled the investigation, along with federal task force officers from the Coral Springs Police Department, Pembroke Pines Police Department, and Plantation Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Rhee Osborne is prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Croke handled asset forfeiture matters.
Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. The mission of the Department’s Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors. To learn more visit https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice. The public is encouraged to report victimization and suspected fraud schemes by calling the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD 11 (1-833-372-8311).