SAGAMORE HILLS — A Bahamian man is facing a federal wire fraud charge in connection with an allegation that he was involved in a scheme that tricked an elderly township woman out of $7,000 in a "grandparent scam," according to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. Sixth District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on Friday.
The affidavit said township police arrested Oreatio C Taylor, 30, when he came to the 86-year-old woman’s home Thursday to pick up $8,000 from her and it was determined he was in the country illegally, having overstayed his visa by five years.
"It was an excellent job by the Sagamore Hills Police Department," said Police Chief David Hayes on Monday. "The FBI came in and commended the detectives because [the FBI] had been trying to catch this guy for some time."
The affidavit said police responded to the woman’s home after a relative of the woman’s called police March 17 reporting fraudulent activity. The woman told police that the day before, an unidentified man called her claiming that her granddaughter had been in a traffic crash and needed $7,000 for bail. The woman said she then spoke to a female she wrongly believed to be her granddaughter, who seemed upset and was crying.
The woman said she went to the PNC Bank branch in Macedonia and withdrew $7,000 from her account and then returned home, where she received several more calls from the man as well as calls from two other unidentified individuals claiming to be a prosecutor and a public defender. The woman said an unidentified man came to her home to get the money from her and he gave her a receipt that the affidavit described as "generic."
The woman said the man who initially contacted her called again and said she would need to pay additional money because the crash victim had been injured more seriously than previously believed and her granddaughter was facing a more serious charge. The woman said she told the man she could get $8,000 by taking out a loan against her life insurance policy.
Then on Thursday, the woman called police to report the man had called again and she had told him she had the money.
Police Detective Sgt. Dan Rice and Detective Victoria Miavitz went to the woman’s home during the early afternoon. The man made several calls to the woman while other officers conducted a surveillance of the neighborhood. Arrangements were eventually made for someone to pick up the money and at 4:24 p.m., police saw a white Chevrolet Silverado with an Indiana license plate approaching.
The driver, subsequently identified as Taylor, stopped in front of the woman’s home, got out and was walking to the woman’s front door when officers waiting outside took him into custody.
The affidavit said police found receipts in the Silverado that were similar to the one given to the woman. Taylor told police that he had driven from Columbus, said the affidavit.
Hayes said that due to Summit County Jail and Macedonia City Jail both declining to admit Taylor due to coronavirus concerns, police took him to Geauga County Jail, from where federal authorities picked him up.
According to court records, Taylor waived his right to a detention hearing during his initial appearance on Friday and he is being held without bond in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 10 at 10 a.m.
His attorney, Anthony Koukoutas, declined to comment.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP