Photo: Ben Lambert / Hearst Connecticut Media
NEW HAVEN — Five men, including three New Haven residents, were indicted Friday after allegedly defrauding seniors and other individuals of more than $4 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut.
Farouq Fasasi, 25, Rodney Thomas Jr., 29, Ralph Pierre, 30, all New Haven residents; Stanley Pierre, 32, of Bridgeport; and Montrell Dobbs Jr., 27, of Ansonia, Hamden and New Haven were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, officials said in a release. All of the men other than Thomas were charged with one count of money laundering. Fasasi and Thomas were also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud.
Stanley Pierre has not yet been arrested, officials said. The other four men pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against them Friday, according to the release.
According to the release, the “indictment alleges that, since August 2015, Fasasi, Thomas and their co-conspirators have used lottery scams, romance scams and other fraudulent means to induce elderly victims to provide them with money, gifts and personal details.”
“Victims sent cash, money orders or checks through the mail to various addresses in Connecticut, and also wired or deposited money into bank accounts in Connecticut controlled by conspiracy members and their associates,” officials said in the release. “It is alleged that members of the conspiracy defrauded numerous victims across the U.S. of more than $4 million. One Connecticut victim lost more than $1 million.”
U.S. Attorney John Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt in the release, as charges “are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” but condemmed the alleged actions of the five men in the release.
“The financial victimization of seniors is as reprehensible as it is cruel, and the Justice Department has made it a priority to root out those who commit these crimes,” said Durham in the statement. “Numerous victims in this scheme gave thousands of dollars to these alleged predators. I urge all to think twice, and then to think again, before providing any money to individuals who they have never met in person. As soon as you are asked for money, call your local police department, or 833-FRAUD-11, for assistance.”
Other officials also shared their displeasure with the alleged scheme in the release.
“Scammers use promises of large financial gains or sometimes even romantic relationships to lure victims in, only to manipulate them into giving their life savings away,” said Inspector in Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Division. “They prey on those individuals who are more susceptible to falling for a phony promotion or offer, most times, our elder population. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting our citizens and working hard to prevent more people from becoming further victimized by these types of schemes.”
“These charges demonstrate the commitment of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to investigate and bring to justice those that victimize the American taxpayer,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “These defendants are alleged to have engaged in schemes resulting in millions of dollars in fraud, often targeting the most vulnerable members of society. The success of this investigation is the result of a collaborative effort between multiple federal law enforcement agencies and the dedicated staff at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”