CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Five people from eastern Iowa pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to a scheme to defraud elderly victims across the United States.
These guilty pleas resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, (HSI) and the Dubuque (Iowa) Police Department.
The following Dubuque-area residents pleaded guilty to wire fraud:
- Tiffany Reynolds, 32,
- Joshua Willis, 21,
- Payton McCarville, 23,
- Morgan Cornell, 20, and
- Paul Chase, 34.
At their plea hearings, all five individuals admitted participating in a scheme to defraud people throughout the United States and that the fraud primarily targeted the elderly. They each admitted that other individuals called victims via telephone and told these victims that a relative was in jail. The caller then asked the victims to wire money via Western Union or MoneyGram to get the relative released. Each defendant further admitted that the money was being wired to various participants in the fraud who picked up the wire transfers; each admitted being one of the participants in and around Dubuque who received wire transfers from the victims.
Sentencing for each individual before U.S. District Court Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after pre-sentence reports are prepared. Willis remains in U.S. Marshals Service custody pending sentencing. Reynolds, McCarville, Cornell and Chase remain free on bond. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine, and three years of supervised release.
Five other people previously pleaded guilty to their roles in this scheme. On March 2, 2017, Shawn Vaassen pleaded guilty and admitted that he too was picking up wire transfers sent to the Dubuque area by victims. At the same plea hearing, Vaassen also pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun.
On May 9, 2017, Carlos Rodriguez pleaded guilty and admitted that he was also picking up wire transfers sent to the Dubuque area by victims. On May 19, 2017, Michael and Stephanie Marcov, a married couple, each pleaded guilty to wire fraud, and admitted picking up wire transfers sent by victims. On Oct. 19, 2017, Tobey Hines pleaded guilty and admitted that he was also picking up wire transfers sent by victims.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Vavricek and Anthony Morfitt, Northern District of Iowa.