Kind-hearted Northeast Ohio grandparents bilked out of nearly $400K

Two Florida men drove to Cleveland area in a U-Haul truck to personally pick up the cash, feds say

Kind-hearted Northeast Ohio grandparents bilked out of nearly $400K
Two Florida men have been indicted after federal authorities say they scammed Northeast Ohio "grandparents" out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Source: AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two Florida men are facing federal charges after they spent the summer allegedly ripping-off Northeast Ohio senior citizens to the tune of nearly $400,000.

On Friday, a federal grand jury indicted Johnny Lee Palmer, 25, and John Tyler Pla, 25, both of Tampa, Florida, on nine counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

A federal grand jury indicted Johnny Lee Palmer, 25, of Tampa, Florida, for his role in a what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling a "grandparents scam."
A federal grand jury indicted Johnny Lee Palmer, 25, of Tampa, Florida, for his role in a what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling a "grandparents scam." (Source: grandparents scam)
John Tyler Pla, 25, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Toledo after he participated in a "grandparents scam" that targeted Northeast Ohioans, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
John Tyler Pla, 25, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Toledo after he participated in a "grandparents scam" that targeted Northeast Ohioans, according to the U.S. Justice Department. (Source: Westlake Police Department)

The two men ran what federal authorities say was a “grandparent scam” that targeted people in Brecksville, Fairview Park, Gates Mills, Lorain, Mansfield, Mentor, Parma, and Westlake, according to the release.

The pair called older residents across Northeast Ohio, claiming to be a relative or a relative’s attorney, the indictment said.

They told their targets that a family member had been arrested and needed money for bail.

When victims agreed to help their family member, the conspirators said they’d arrange for a courier to pick-up the money in person.

But the feds say there was no courier - just Palmer and Pla in a U-Haul truck.

The pair rented trucks and drove to victims' homes in person to get the money.

In total, kindly Northeast Ohioans lost $383,932.00, according to the release.

“These two fraudsters played on the heart-strings of grandparents," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith in the release. "Discussions prior to receiving a possible phone call from scammers can prevent your loved one from being a victim.”

Palmer and Pla were caught after an investigation by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and the Westlake Police Department.

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