Update: A case against two New York men charged with attempting to defraud an elderly North Hall couple out of $12,000 was forwarded to Hall Superior Court Monday, Sept. 27.
Hall County Magistrate Elizabeth Reisman also denied bond to the defendants during a preliminary hearing.
“I think that, based on the amount of victims, (setting bond) is a concern for the elderly here,” she said.
Brandon A. Massey, 23, and Jamal Clifford Davis, 28, were charged Sept. 9 with exploitation of an elder person in what investigators have said is part of a widespread phone scam throughout the state.
Federal officials also are taking part in the investigation.
At least one of the cases involved the North Hall couple, who was falsely told their granddaughter had been in a car accident and had been arrested.
The couple “needed to pay money to get their granddaughter out of jail,” Hall sheriff’s investigator Mark Newberry testified at Monday’s hearing.
The 79-year-old wife went to the bank to withdraw $12,000, but bank officials stopped the transaction, saying “it was a scam,” the investigator said.
Law enforcement was alerted, with the wife asked to follow through with the scam.
“We gave her an envelope with paper inside to simulate cash,” Newberry said.
As part of a sting operation at the couple’s home, Davis was arrested in the front of the residence. Massey was additionally charged with fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer, obstruction of an officer and reckless driving.
The suspects are being held in the Hall County Jail.
Previous story: Two New York men have been charged with attempting to defraud an elderly North Hall couple out of $12,000 in what investigators have determined is part of a widespread phone scam throughout the state,
Brandon A. Massey, 23, of Springfield Gardens, New York, and Jamal Clifford Davis, 28, of Queens Village, New York, were charged on Sept. 9 with exploitation of an elder person by telling the couple that one of their family members faced legal trouble.
Hall County Sheriff’s investigators have determined that there are additional victims in the state, and they are working with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said they are currently investigating two cases, though only one has been connected to Massey and Davis.
A Hall County victim was scammed out of more than $10,000 Sept. 1, Booth said, but there have been no arrests in that case.
Investigators set up a sting operation at the couple’s home to catch the men after learning about the attempted scam.
Massey attempted to drive away from the deputies but was stopped when they blocked his car with their patrol cars, Booth said. Davis was arrested in the front of the residence.
Massey was additionally charged with fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer, obstruction of an officer and reckless driving.
Both are being held in the Hall County Jail with no bond.
Investigators later determined that the phone scam was widespread, impacting residents in other Georgia counties. Detectives determined that the suspects were working out of the Atlanta area.
“As a result, authorities in Walton, Fannin and Hart counties identified similar circumstances in their jurisdictions and arrested suspects as they arrived to collect money from elderly victims,” Booth said. “The inquiry deepened when investigators identified a lead scammer who appears to be the caller and coordinator of those who collect the funds.”
Booth said they are looking to identify any residents who have been contacted as part of the scam calls.
The caller tells the person that one of their family members is in legal trouble and needs money for a bond or legal fees.
“The scammer typically asks for more than $10,000 and sends one or two ‘representatives’ to the victim’s home to collect the money,” Booth wrote in a news release.
Investigators believe the head scammer is operating out of New Jersey and New York, though the scheme may reach as far west as Nebraska.
Anyone who has received a similar type of scam call is asked to contact investigators at 770-297-4686.
Massey’s defense attorney, Mike Jacobs, did not return a request for comment, while Davis’ attorney, Barry Hazen, declined to comment.