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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. California Man Arrested for Allegedly Attempting to Defraud Elderly Victims

California Man Arrested for Allegedly Attempting to Defraud Elderly Victims

Release Date: April 30, 2024

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California man is scheduled to appear in court April 29 on federal charges stemming from his alleged attempt to obtain funds from two elderly victims who had already paid thousands in an online phishing scheme that locked up their home computer.

Tai Su, 48, of West Covina, is scheduled to make his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles. Su was arrested Friday in a sting by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles and federal prosecutors. A criminal complaint was filed Sunday alleging one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Su was arrested at the victims’ Encino residence when he showed up to retrieve $35,000 from them; the couple had already paid the fraudsters $25,000 in cash. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Su is part of a scheme that included a computer virus, callers pretending to help the victims, and two other people who masqueraded as federal agents.

The cyberattack began April 23, when the victims opened an email and clicked a link launching malware that seized their computer and displayed a phone number that was purportedly “Microsoft Support.” The victims called the number and spoke to a person who advised they had been “hacked,” and the hackers now had their bank account information at City National Bank.

The victims were then connected to another person pretending to be a “Fraud and Risk Investigator” with City National Bank, who instructed the victims to withdraw $25,000 in cash and give the money to purported “federal agents” who would come to the victims’ house. The victims withdrew the cash and, later on April 23, two men pretending to be federal agents — one of whom displayed a fake badge — came to the victims’ residence and collected the money.

Over the next two days, the scammers continued to seek additional funds from the victims, even directing them to make a $10,000 withdrawal at a particular City National Bank branch.

HSI agents learned about the ongoing scam and planned a sting operation April 25.

On April 26, during a series of phone calls with participants in the scheme, the victims agreed to make another $35,000 cash payment. After rebuffing demands to deposit the funds into a virtual wallet at a remote location, the victims arranged for another pick-up by a “federal officer” at their residence.

At the agreed-upon time, Su drove to the victims’ home. He identified himself to an 86-year-old victim, gave a passcode and said he was from Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency platform. HSI agents then arrested Su, who was carrying thousands of dollars in cash in large denominations, according to the affidavit.

A criminal complaint contains allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The investigation was conducted by the HSI-led El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force, a multiagency task force that includes federal and state investigators who are focused on financial crimes in Southern California.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kedar S. Bhatia and Joseph De Leon of the General Crimes Section are prosecuting this case.

To report suspicious criminal activity, including Elder Fraud, please contact the HSI Tip Line at 877-4-HSI-TIP.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 833-FRAUD-11. This 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 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. English, Spanish and other languages are available.

Last Updated: 04/30/2024
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