By Aaron Blevins, 11/01/2012
A Canadian man who is among six defendants charged with defrauding elderly Americans was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Pascal Goyer, 29, whose last known residence was Montreal, was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport when his flight landed from Mexico on Oct. 25. Following an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2011, Goyer and others were identified as participants in an advance fee scheme, known as the “grandparent scam,” which they allegedly operated from a boiler room in Montreal. On Sept. 25, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Goyer and five co-defendants with multiple counts of wire fraud, attempted wire fraud and aiding and abetting.
According to the indictment, Goyer and his co-defendants called elderly victims in Southern California and invented scenarios involving legal or financial crises they claimed had befallen the grandchildren or other relatives of the victims. During the calls, one of the defendants would impersonate the purported relative of the victim and claim to be located in a foreign country and in need of money in order to resolve the purported crisis.
While perpetrating the fraud, defendants allegedly fabricated perilous situations that included car accidents or arrest scenarios, where bail money or repair expenses were immediately required. The indictment further alleges that the defendants also impersonated third parties during the scheme whom they introduced as an attorney or official acting in the best interest of the individual they claimed was the distressed relative.
The defendants would then instruct victims where and to whom the funds should be sent via a wire transfer service. The indictment alleges the defendants obtained enough information from the victim to fraudulently authenticate the wire transaction by either assuming a false identity or by advising the victim to send funds to the person identified as the third party introduced to the victim.
In none of the cases alleged in the indictment were the defendants related to the victims or associated with any relatives of the victims. Investigators have determined that the victims were identified through mass-produced lead lists that targeted a specific victim demographic. According to the indictment, victims wired amounts between $2,000 to $3,000, in most cases.