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‘Grandparent Scam’ Pair Admits to Taking Advantage of San Diego Elders

The scheme, which defrauded elderly San Diego residents of hundreds of thousands of dollars, has two more participants who have now acknowledged their involvement.

According to an update provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday, Tracy Glinton of Orlando, Florida accepted her guilt last month and Lyda Harris of Laveen, Arizona entered a guilty plea in federal court that same day.

They were the fifth and sixth defendants in a federal RICO case related to the scam to enter a guilty plea, with two more defendants listed by prosecutors still at large.

Authorities claim the group of con artists defrauded over 70 senior citizens nationwide out of over $2 million, with at least ten of those victims in the San Diego region losing more than $300,000.

“Fake claims” that their grandchildren were in dire straits and urgently in need of money were fed to them as part of the ruse.

Investigators have determined that the elderly victims would first receive a call from a caller pretending to be either their grandchild or another relative.

In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the con artist “pretended to be in serious legal danger because of an accident or arrest.” “He or she stated that they needed the money for bail, medical costs, or legal bills.”


The investigators claim that this initial call would be followed by a complex plot involving numerous “actors” and a “well-rehearsed script.”

The explanation goes on to say, “One would play the loved relative, another would pretend to be a lawyer, and still another would masquerade as bail agents or medical specialists.” The victims were given fictitious case numbers, and they were told to give fake explanations for the withdrawal or money transfer to bank employees as well as to their loved ones and friends.

According to authorities, victims gave over tens of thousands of dollars to con artists who later showed up at their door to collect.

The extensive investigation started in San Diego with “one victim and a little loss,” but it quickly expanded to include victims in El Cajon, Escondido, Carlsbad, Bonita, Santee, Coronado, and more than a dozen other states besides California.

A detailed story of an 87-year-old Oceanside resident who was a victim of the scheme was shared by the authorities when they initially revealed their investigation in August 2021.

Prosecutors gave an update on Thursday and provided specifics on the accusations made against the most recent participants to formally admit their involvement.

By her plea deal, Harris “collected and routed victim money for a coconspirator to convert from fiat currency to cryptocurrency,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated. She consented to forfeit the more than $6,000 she personally earned from the fraud, and she will pay more than $1 million in restitution to the victims.

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By the terms of her plea deal, Glinton assisted one of the con artists in managing the victims’ money. She consented to forfeit the little more than $10,000 she made from the con while still owing the victims more than $470,000 in reparations.

Officials warned people not to be too ashamed to come forward and ask for compensation since they believe there may still be additional fraud victims out there.

The FBI, local police, or sheriff’s offices were encouraged to be contacted by potential victims.

Adonis Alexis Butler Wong and Tracy Adrine Knowles, both residents of Florida, were identified by the prosecution as the two individuals still at large.

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