A federal grand jury in San Diego voted to charge all eight with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, Act. The suspects are from California, Florida and Arizona and range in age from 23 to 73, according to a Thursday DOJ press release.
Using extortion and fraud, the suspects “induced elderly Americans across the United States to pay thousands to tens of thousands of dollars each to purportedly help their grandchild or other close family relatives,” officials said.
They allegedly made at least $ 2 million from victims who were age 70 and older, at least 10 of whom were located in San Diego County, by calling each victim and, at times, pretending to be their grandchild or someone connected to the grandchild.
“They falsely convinced the victims that their relatives were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, medical expenses for car accident victims, or to prevent additional charges from being filed,” officials continued.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.