Skip to content
630-377-3241 455 Dunham Road, Suite 200, St. Charles, IL 60174
FBI-warns of-over-4oo%-increase-in-elder-scams-including-money-loss-and-control

FBI Warns of Over 400% Increase in Elder Scams Including Money Loss and Control

The FBI Houston Field Office is warning people to be aware of elder scams as they see a concerning increase in cases.

Since 2021, elder scams have increased by over 400%, leading to a loss of $1.2 billion in 2023 according to a recent report. Public Affairs Officer, Christina Garza, says this is something people need to be watching.

“Unfortunately we consider elder fraud quite an epidemic at the FBI simply because of the amount of types of fraud we are seeing and the fact that they increase every single year,” she said. “We’re seeing people lose their entire life savings and their retirement funds on top of that. They’re losing their homes because they’re having to remortgage their houses to be able to keep up with the scams and the extortion if you will and manipulation that comes along with all of that.”

A recent case was shared by the Southern District of Texas, about a case led by the FBI Bryan Field Office. Five people were arrested for defrauding a 92-year-old veteran out of $300,000, with $13 million in returns promised.

Beyond the money, two suspects arrested are being accused of using the money as salary and creating a do-not-resuscitate order as the victim’s power of attorney. Garza says scams against the elderly usually have elements of control and relationship building that allow criminals to access private information.

“This is what they do. They truly groom their victims into establishing a relationship of trust a lot of these romance and investment scams are nurtured if you will they don’t just pop up out of the blue,” she said.

Garza says if you believe you are being scammed it’s best to call your financial institution and block any payments possible, then contact law enforcement.

Five individuals are now in custody following allegations they tricked an elderly man in his 90s out of over $300,000 in retirement funds, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Authorities arrested Lenel Hopkins, 52, Antoinette Monique Hopkins, 42, Alichia Webster, 60, Neil John Halvorson, 65, and Victor Evans Jr., 70. The arrests occurred in Alabama and Florida where they will first appear before their arraignments in Houston.

All five individuals as well as their company – Ternion Group International LLC aka Ternion Training and Education Center Corporation – are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges Ternion self-identified as a “Christian” company that claimed to be an international investment group performing construction projects and job training for believers. They promised investors high monetary returns and ownership in local development projects in exchange for large investment deposits into Ternion, according to the charges.

Potential investors would allegedly become “hubs” associated with Ternion which would have a Ternion name and the investor’s address as its physical location. According to the indictment, investors would make monetary payments and were supposed to receive millions of dollars in return. The charges allege they actually never received anything in exchange for their payments.

As part of the indictment, Ternion owners convinced a then 92-year-old World War II veteran to form a hub, telling him he would receive $13 million in return if he invested $300,000. The money was supposed to be used to build a vocational school and to purchase 100 homes, according to the allegations.

The charges allege Evans actually drew a salary from the money the victim transferred from his retirement account.

In furtherance of the scheme, Halvorson also allegedly caused the victim to enter into a new will which gave Evans successor rights and power of attorney over the victim’s property (including his hub), bank accounts and contracts as well as a medical power of attorney he used to execute a do-not-resuscitate form for the victim.

The victim has not received any monies in return for the $300,000 he invested nor heard from anyone from Ternion since 2020, according to the charges. The indictment also alleges the location they had told the victim would be the site of the project is privately owned and not for sale.

If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine for each count.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Laurence Goldman is prosecuting the case.

The case is brought as part of the Elder Justice Initiative. Its goal is to support and coordinate the Department of Justice’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s older adults.

Contact a certified elder law attorney(*), such as Linda Strohschein and her team at Strohschein Law Group for more information on local organizations that provide education on Senior Safety.  To set up an appointment, contact Strohschein Law Group at 630-300-0627.

This information provided by Strohschein Law Group is general in nature and is not intended to be legal advice, nor does it constitute a legal relationship.  Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

(*) The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the CELA designation is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois.

For Immediate Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas
Back To Top