A Massachusetts man who New Hampshire authorities say was involved in "grandparent" scams targeting two Granite State seniors last year, including one in Keene, has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies for his role in those schemes.
Starlyn J. Lara Pimental of Roxbury, Mass., pleaded guilty Friday in Cheshire County Superior Court to theft by deception and attempted theft by deception, the N.H. Attorney General's office announced in a news release.
Grandparent scams are common and can involve callers claiming they have been robbed, arrested, in an accident, hospitalized or are stuck in a foreign country, according to the AARP. Often, the “grandchild” will hand the phone over to someone seemingly authoritative, like a supposed doctor or lawyer, and ask their grandparent not to tell their parents.
Keene police arrested Pimental, 27, last November as he was attempting to pick up $32,000 in cash from an elderly man, the Attorney General's office said in its release.
The day before his arrest, one of Pimental's co-conspirators falsely told the Keene man that his grandchild had been in an accident that killed someone and that he needed to pay that sum in compensation, the release states. Court documents in a related case show the co-conspirator also told the man earlier that his grandchild had been arrested after the accident and needed $18,000 for bail.
Prosecutors say another of Pimental's alleged co-conspirators, Elvis Guzman of Paterson, N.J., traveled to Keene last November to meet the man in a parking lot and receive the $18,000 transfer — two days before Pimental arranged to pick up the $32,000.
In a news release last year announcing Pimental's arrest, Keene police said that when the local man went to a bank to withdraw cash for a second time, a teller recognized the scam and convinced him to contact police. Officers arranged a sting operation and arrested Pimental when he showed up to get the money, police said.
Pimental also obtained $18,000 from an elderly Nashua resident in a similar grandparent scam last year, according to the news release Friday from the Attorney General's office.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors will request that Pimental is sentenced to 7½-15 years in state prison, with an additional 4½ years suspended on the condition that he pay $18,000 to the Nashua man, the release states. He also faces up to two to five years in prison for his conviction in the Keene case, it states. Pimental is scheduled to be sentenced next February.
In May, prosecutors charged Guzman with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Both are felonies.
Guzman was also indicted in Rockingham County on four other counts alleging he conspired to obtain cash from 11 elderly victims across the state last year. The indictments claim that he and his partners stole more than $100,000 from New Hampshire residents in four days. He was arrested last November in Londonderry, according to the Attorney General's office. Guzman's case is still pending.
To report elder abuse or financial exploitation, call your local police department or the N.H. Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services at 1-800-949-0470.