The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and Yavapai County Attorney’s Office has seized $30,000 from a fraud scheme and returned it Monday, Aug. 7, to an elderly victim.
The fraud began when a person going by the name of “Jonh Caldwell” — with the first name spelled incorrectly — contacted an 89-year-old Prescott widow, through email and social media.
Jonh claimed to be an American military general who needed money to leave the war zone in Syria or Iran.
Over a period of time, the widow was misled into believing she was assisting Jonh to escape the war and return to the United States. Jonh professed his love to the widow, and convinced her that she was the only one who could help him. He also promised to repay the funds to her when they could be together.
Jonh Caldwell and another person by the name of “Mills,” who claimed to be associated with the United Nations, defrauded the widow of over $60,000 in several transactions.
The widow’s son reported the fraud to the Sheriff’s Office after learning that his mother had just transferred $30,000 to the fraudster’s bank account.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office responded quickly using the asset forfeiture laws to freeze $30,000 in funds in the con man’s bank account before “Jonh” could transfer the money out of the account.
The County Attorney’s Office then filed, in court, a civil forfeiture action and successfully obtained a court order to forfeit the $30,000. That money was returned to the victim Monday.
The Sheriff’s Office has referred the case for criminal investigation to Massachusetts, the last known location of the suspects.