LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. — A man and two women are now charged with trying to scam elderly residents in Blount and Loudon counties out of thousands of dollars.
Jaquan Jarrod Wright, 30, of Brooklyn is charged with felony theft as well as financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable, and criminal impersonation. Brittany Carson, 27, of Englewood, NJ, and Stephanie Valeriano, 28, of Lawrence, MA, are charged with financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable with additional warrants for theft and conspiracy pending.
The trio used a twist on the "grandparent scam" to get their victims to turn over the money. They told the victims that their grandchildren had been arrested and needed money immediately for bail. Investigators said in this case, the suspects actually went to the homes of some of their victims to collect the cash.
Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said a Maryville woman turn over $15,000 to Wright, who showed up at her home pretending to be a bail bondsman. Berrong said a woman in Loudon County also lost thousands of dollars in the same scheme.
"These individuals were very methodical in researching their victims information to the point that they knew children and grandchildren's names. This and the fact that they came to their victim’s homes to collect this money is extremely concerning to us.”, said Sheriff Tim Guider. “We are hopeful that this case, and the information we are releasing, will help educate our residents and prevent any further opportunities like this for the criminals that pursue them,” said Guider.
Both departments said they received numerous complaints about the scam last week. They suspect the trio could have attempted the scam in other counties as well and hope any victims will come forward.
“Our strong working relationship with Loudon County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies proved to be invaluable in this case,” Sheriff Berrong said. “This arrest may not have been possible without the collective resources and investigative knowledge we share as a team.”
Investigators with both agencies took the trio into custody in Loudon County on Thursday night, where they are still being held.
"As a reminder, if you receive this type of phone call, hang up and call 911. These criminals are very convincing and are relentless in their quest to steal your money," Sheriff Berrong said in a press release.