Woman conned into converting life savings to gold — but she outconned the cons, feds say

A woman was told drug dealers “compromised” her bank account — and she needed to convert her life savings into gold, prosecutors said.

After she did so, an accused con artist posing as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent said she needed to leave the $300,000 worth of gold in an unlocked car for a “court officer” to pick up, according to prosecutors.

Supposedly, this purported court officer – who prosecutors said was really a second con artist working with the fake agent — would take her gold so the DEA could safeguard it, officials said. But it was a scam.

However, the woman became “suspicious” and outconned the two men with the help of authorities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

The second accused con artist, a citizen of India living in Jersey City, New Jersey, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the attorney’s office announced in a May 24 news release.

The 38-year-old’s attorney declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on May 25.

The fake DEA agent was named as the man’s co-conspirator in an indictment. He wasn’t charged in the case.

How the scheme unfolded

In August 2022, the woman got a call from “Oscar White,” the fake DEA agent, about how her bank accounts were compromised, prosecutors said.

Specifically, she was told that drug traffickers were using her “identity to launder money,” the indictment says.

To “avoid prosecution,” the woman was tricked into converting her money into gold bars at a jewelry store in Massachusetts, according to an Aug. 11 news release from the Hadley Police Department.

After the woman was instructed to leave her gold in an unlocked car — and after she contacted authorities about her suspicions — a joint investigation with Hadley police, additional police departments and the FBI ensued, prosecutors said.

An undercover law enforcement officer, pretending to be the woman, carried out a “sham transaction” at a jewelry store in Hadley and obtained two buckets of fake gold, officials said.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey man was watching the fake transaction take place after having driven from New Jersey to Hadley, according to prosecutors. He had no idea authorities were involved.

He followed the undercover officer, who he believed was the woman, to a parking lot designated as a meeting spot and took the gold out of the car, prosecutors said.

Then, authorities arrested him, according to the release.

As for the woman, she got her money back after she returned the gold to the jewelry store, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.

After the man serves his prison sentence, deportation proceedings will follow, prosecutors said.

In a sentencing memo, the man’s attorney wrote that his client’s “decision to assist shadowy figures in their scheme has destroyed his life.”

“He yearns only to return to his native India and put this disastrous chapter in his life behind him” so he could be reunited with his daughter and family, the memo says.

In addition to the federal case, Hadley police arrested the man on charges of attempted larceny from an individual over 60 and breaking and entering into a car with the intent to commit a felony, according to the department’s news release.

Hadley is about 100 miles west of Boston.

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