Md. man pleads guilty to scamming elderly victims for over $300K

WASHINGTON —  A Chillum, Maryland, man pleaded guilty this week to charges connected to scams involving over 100 elderly victims and at least $396,157, prosecutors said.

Onijah Crighton, 23, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said in a release. Prosecutors said he told his elderly victims they had won money and asked that they pay a fee or taxes before receiving their alleged prize.

Crighton worked with someone else starting in April 2013 to defraud an elderly man living in Virginia who had Parkinson’s disease, according to his plea agreement. Crighton falsely told the victim he had won $2.5 million, the second-place prize of a $10 million draw sponsored by the Better Business Bureau and Publisher’s Clearing House, prosecutors said.

Crighton and his co-conspirator contacted their victim hundreds of times over the following months until the victim finally agreed to send them 44 payments totaling about $112,000. Prosecutors said the victim paid by sending cash through mail, by adding money to the scammers’ Green Dot cards, or through Western Union.

Overall, Crighton and others worked together to scam over 100 elderly victims out of at least $396,157, according to prosecutors.

Crighton also used at least 10 elderly victims’ personal information to enroll debit cards in their names without their consent or knowledge. He used different email addresses on the debit card applications and used other addresses to hide his involvement in the scam.

If the court accepts the plea agreement, Crighton faces a 57-month prison sentence, or nearly five years. He will also need to pay the full amount of the victims’ losses, prosecutors said.

His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 30.

Teta Alim

Teta Alim is a Digital Editor at WTOP. Teta's interest in journalism started in music and moved to digital media.

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