Phone scammer sentenced for scamming 91-year-old man into sending $20,000 to Glendale in jail bail scheme

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A Brooklyn man was sentenced for scamming a then-90-year-old California man out of $20,000 in a fake jail bail scheme and having him send the money to a Glendale address, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

George Etienne, 27, was convicted of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument in March. He was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison.

“The defendant in this case conned a giving nonagenarian out of $20,000 in cash,” said acting District Attorney John M. Ryan. “This heartless scammer preyed on the victim’s love for his grandchild and bilked the then-90-year-old man out of a significant sum of money. The sentence imposed by the court today is more than warranted.”

According to trial testimony, on Nov. 2, 2017, the then-90-year-old victim received a phone call at his California home from someone pretending to be his grandson. The caller told the victim that he had struck a woman with his car and had been arrested.

A second person, or a disguised voice, got on the line and introduced himself as the “grandson’s” lawyer. The “lawyer” told the victim that he had to send $20,000 in cash within the pages of a magazine and mail the money via FedEx to a fake name and provided an address in Glendale. The lawyer also ordered the victim to not request a signature upon receipt when mailing the item.

The now-91-year-old victim, who suffers from a series of medical conditions, testified via closed-circuit television that he sent the money the day after receiving the call and was told not tell any family members about the car incident or that his grandson was in jail. On the day the package arrived, Etienne was at the Glendale location and tried to use a fraudulent Pennsylvania driver’s license to accept the package from the FedEx delivery worker. The delivery man refused to hand it over and dropped the package through the slot at the address.

Shortly afterwards, police officers from the 104th Precinct that were in the area saw Etienne retrieving the package from the Glendale home. Etienne told the resident that the package had been delivered there by mistake, showing them the fake ID. Officers stopped Etienne, who presented the fake ID to them, after he retrieved the package. Police recognized the identification as fake and took Etienne and the package into custody.

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