A New Jersey man has been charged with conspiring to steal $50,000 from an elderly Keene resident in an alleged “grandparent scam” in November, according to court documents.
The N.H. Attorney General’s Office obtained indictments Monday charging Elvis Guzman, 43, of Paterson, N.J., with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Both are class A felonies.
Keene police previously arrested another person — Starlyn J. Lara Pimental, 27, of Hyde Park, Mass. — in connection with the alleged scam.
Prosecutors claim that Guzman worked with Lara Pimental and at least one other person to defraud an 86-year-old Keene man. The charges allege an “unknown coconspirator” contacted the man on Nov. 2 pretending to be the man’s grandson, claimed he’d been arrested after an accident and asked for $18,000 for bail.
Guzman traveled to Keene that day, met the man in a parking lot and received $18,000 in cash from him, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say one of the conspirators contacted the Keene man again the next day requesting another $32,000 and sent Lara Pimental to Keene to pick it up, where he was arrested.
In announcing the arrest of Lara Pimental in November, Keene police said a bank teller recognized the scam when the Keene man tried to withdraw cash a second time, and convinced him to contact his family and the police. According to a news release from the Keene Police Department, officers arranged a sting resulting in Lara Pimental’s arrest when he showed up to obtain the cash.
Earlier this month, the Attorney General’s Office announced Guzman had been indicted in Rockingham County on four other counts, alleging he “conspired with others to obtain cash from 11 elderly victims throughout the State” over several days in late October, according to a news release from the office. The Attorney General’s Office said the suspects falsely told people their grandchildren had been arrested, asked for money to post bail and — as is also alleged to have happened in the Keene case — sometimes told the grandparents a “gag order” prohibited them from talking about the arrest.
The Rockingham County indictments allege Guzman and his partners stole more than $100,000 from New Hampshire residents in those four days. He was arrested Nov. 6 by Londonderry police, according to the news release.
Grandparent scams are common and can involve callers claiming they are the victim’s grandchild and have been robbed, arrested, in an accident, hospitalized or stuck in a foreign country, according to the AARP. Often, the supposed “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.
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.