Six people from Dubuque sentenced to federal prison for scamming elderly

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DUBUQUE, Iowa — Six people from Dubuque were sentenced on Thursday, March 1 to federal prison for defrauding more than 250 elderly victims across the United States out of more than $750,000.

The perpetrators received wire transfers from the elderly victims who were told their relatives were in jail and required money for bail. The scammers then transferred the money via Western Union or MoneyGram to other participants in the scheme located in the Dominican Republic.

“The perpetrators of this scheme shamelessly preyed upon vulnerable individuals in our society by exploiting their generosity,” said United States Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who seek to victimize and financially exploit the elderly.”

One of the victims reported to Dubuque police that they had transferred money to someone in the area, prompting police to contact the Northern District of Iowa’s Elder Justice Task Force to assist with the investigation.

The Elder Justice Task Force is one of only 10 in the nation, launched by the Department of Justice in 2016 to unite federal, state, and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and elderly advocacy groups to protect those most vulnerable to abuse.

The initiative’s goals include ensuring the integrity of government expenditures by eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse in health programs for the elderly. The task force also aims to protect the elderly from direct harm, whether it’s physical abuse in nursing homes or financial fraud schemes.

Tobey Hines, age 33, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison after a October 19, 2017, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. At his sentencing hearing, the judge found Hines had victimized at least 17 individuals and was responsible for nearly a $120,000 in loss. Between January 2016 and April 2016, Hines sent $119,985 via wire transfer to the Dominican Republic as part of the scheme. Hines was also ordered to pay $47,059.94 in restitution to the victims.

Tiffany Reynolds, age 33, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 19 months in federal prison after a November 15, 2017, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. At her sentencing hearing, the judge found that Reynolds was responsible for the losses of 15 victims, totaling nearly $40,000 in losses.  In sentencing her, the judge also noted Reynolds’s extensive criminal history, including prior convictions for OWI and assault. The judge also ordered her to pay $37,587 in restitution to the victims.

Joshua Willis, age 21, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison after a November 15, 2017, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. At his sentencing hearing, the judge found that Willis was responsible for the losses of 26 victims, totaling more than $60,000 in losses. In sentencing Willis, the judge also noted his extensive criminal history, including multiple prior convictions for assault.  The judge also ordered him to pay $64,302.80 in restitution to the victims.

Payton McCarville, age 23, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 8 months in federal prison after a November 17, 2017, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. At her sentencing hearing, the judge found that McCarville was responsible for the losses of 13 victims, totaling nearly $40,000 in losses. The judge also ordered her to pay $39,369.31 in restitution to the victims.

Morgan Cornell, age 21, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison after a November 16, 2017, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. At her sentencing hearing, the judge found that Cornell was responsible for the losses of 15 victims, totaling over $30,000 in losses. The judge also ordered her to pay $33,129.60 in restitution to the victims.

Paul Chase, age 34, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison after a November 20, 2017, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. At his sentencing hearing, the judge found that Chase was responsible for the losses of 14 victims, totaling more than $40,000 in losses. In sentencing Chase, the judge also noted his extensive criminal history, including multiple prior convictions for OWI.  The judge also ordered him to pay $42,152.46 in restitution to the victims.

All six perpetrators were sentenced in Cedar Rapids on Thursday. Each must serve a three-year term of supervised release upon completion of their individual sentence.