BULLARD, Texas (KETK) – A Shreveport woman pleaded guilty for her role in an elder fraud scheme against an elderly Bullard resident that cost him $4.85 million.
45-year-old Monica Ruiz pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday.
According to information presented in court, Ruiz enlisted a variety of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises in a scheme to defraud an elderly victim from Bullard.
Among the various misrepresentations Ruiz made in order to obtain money from the victim were the following:
- That Ruiz had been in a coma;
- That Ruiz had brain surgery;
- That Ruiz was falsely arrested and imprisoned;
- That Ruiz had bribed a judge and prosecutor;
- That Ruiz’s son died in a car accident in Pennsylvania;
- That Ruiz was in a car accident;
- That Ruiz had a kidney transplant;
- That Ruiz’s daughter was committed to a mental institution;
- That Ruiz was incarcerated; and
- That Ruiz’s grandmother died.
At times, Ruiz impersonated other people in communications with the victim. At other times, she created and used false personas to communicate with the victim. Over the course of the scheme, Ruiz obtained more than $4.85 million.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Ruiz with federal violations on Nov. 19, 2020. Under federal statutes, Ruiz could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
“Schemes that target elderly victims are particularly troubling,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “Ruiz manipulated a vulnerable victim, exploited his trust, and stole much of his hard-earned life savings. Protecting senior citizens from exploitation has been, and will remain, a priority in the Eastern District.”
In August of 2020, the Eastern District of Texas announced an initiative, in partnership with law enforcement and private financial institutions, to identify and prosecute transnational elder fraud. This EDTX initiative is designed to combat these criminal organization, both foreign and domestic, as well their networks of associates and money mules who launder the stolen funds.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps.
Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
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