West Covina man arrested in malware scheme targeting elderly victims in Encino

A West Covina man was arrested last week on suspicion of defrauding two elderly victims of thousands of dollars though an online phishing scheme.

Tai Su, 48, was arrested on a federal charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. The scheme began on April 23 when the two victims in Encino opened an email and clicked on a link that launched malware that seized their computer, prosecutors said.

A phone number claiming to connect to Microsoft Support appeared on the computer instructing the victims to call about the apparent hack.

The person on the phone claimed that hackers were able to get the victims’ bank account information at City National Bank, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The victims were then connected to an impersonator claiming to be a “Fraud and Risk Investigator” with City National Bank. The person instructed the victims to withdraw $25,000 in cash that would then be picked up at their home by “federal agents.”

Later that day, two men posing as federal agents, including one who wore a fake badge, collected the money from the victims.

On April 26, the victims agreed to make another $35,000 cash payment to the scammers. When the victims refused to deposit the cash into a virtual wallet at a remote location, the scammers instead arranged for another pickup by the “federal agents” at their home.

Homeland Security Investigations became aware of the scam on April 25 and began planning a sting operation.

A day later, Su drove to the victims’ home, telling one victim he was affiliated with Coinbase, a cryptocurrency platform, officials said. Su was arrested by HSI agents at home, and was found to be carrying thousands of dollars in cash.

If found guilty, Su faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).

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