Alleged phone scammers busted - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Alleged phone scammers busted

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Four people from Dubuque are accused of having ties to a phone scam that targets elderly people for thousands of dollars.

Carlos Rodriguez, Cody Allen Richey, Michael Lee Marcov and his wife Stephanie Ann Marcov are accused of Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, and Conspiracy spanning across 30 different states including Iowa.

For the past year, several people called the KWWL newsroom to report this scam.

It probably sounds familiar--a caller claims to be a relative or grandchild, and they say they need money sent to them right away to get out of jail.

Federal court documents indicate how it all works.

"Hi Grandma, this is your grandson," Joann Anderson of Parkersburg sad.

Anderson is one of the many people who realized she was being scammed when she got the call, but several other victims weren't so lucky.

According to a special agent investigating the scam since April 2016, he outlines in his affidavit, "the organization has targeted victims in an at least 30 states and has received money wired by victims in numerous locations in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Here's how it works: the victim gets a call, and the caller instructs them to wire money via Western Union or Money Gram locations like Walmart. 

An anonymous person referred to as a runner picks up the money for a fee of $20-25, and then they wire it to another account in places like the Dominican Republic.

The affidavit indicates Rodriguez was a leader in the organization, and it also outlines pages of conversation between Rodriguez to the Marcovs and Cody Allen Richey.

The conversation discusses the illegal transfer scheme with phone and account numbers of victims, including how much they took from different people.

According to an attorney who specializes in federal cases, the four suspects will likely serve time in prison and have to pay restitution based on the extent of the crime if they're found guilty.

According to initial findings, nearly 30 people were involved with the entire operation.

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