Scheme Targeted Over 2000 Victims and Involved Approximately $3.2 Million.
TYLER, Texas – Three former Texans now living in Louisiana have pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei Thursday.
Ronnie Duane Booth, 38, and Mary Elizabeth Beaman Booth, 40, formerly of Forney, pleaded guilty on August 24, 2021, to aiding and abetting an unlicensed money transmitting business. Tracey Brookshier, 52, formerly of Kingsville, pleaded guilty to the same charge on August 25, 2021, before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.
“Defrauding elderly persons of their life savings deprives them of a secure future and causes significant emotional distress to both the victim and their families,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “EDTX is committed to holding accountable those who unconscionably prey on our senior citizens and other vulnerable populations.”
“These developments demonstrate the commitment of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to investigate and bring to justice those that victimize the American taxpayer,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “The defendants engaged in multiple scams, often targeting the most vulnerable members of society. The success of this investigation is the result of a collaborative effort between multiple Federal law enforcement agencies and the dedicated staff at the United States Attorney’s Office.”
According to information presented in court, the three defendants were part of a scheme that involved call center fraudulent solicitations of various kinds, including home mortgage modifications, personal loans, repayment of Social Security benefits, and IRS demands for payment.
They contacted victims by an overseas call center and instructed them to make payments through various money service businesses or mail payments to specified addresses. They recruited Booths and Brookshier to pick up those payments from the money service businesses or receive them in the mail. They would then deposit them into accounts as instructed by others involved in the scheme. One such co-conspirator, Jeremy Christopher Jones, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in June.
Brookshier admitted to being responsible for collecting and depositing approximately $126,000 in victim proceeds, Mary Booth admitted to being responsible for picking up and depositing roughly $155,000 in victim proceeds. Ronnie Booth admitted to picking up and depositing approximately $91,000 in victim proceeds. The overall scheme involved about $3.2 million in victims’ payments and almost 2000 victims, many elderly.
The defendants each face up to five years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the court will determine the sentencing based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Sentencing hearings will be after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. 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 victim’s needs and identifying appropriate next steps. Case managers will identify relevant reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis.
Reporting is the first step. 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. The hotline is staffed 9:00 am until 5:00 pm Central Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), U.S. Secret Service, and Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Coan and Alan Jackson prosecuted the case.