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Four to be prosecuted in Michigan in nationwide elder fraud sweep

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Posted at 1:19 PM, Feb 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-22 13:19:53-05

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, involving more than 250 defendants from around the globe.

“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” Sessions said. “Today’s actions send a clear message: we will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are."

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan is prosecuting four individuals for federal crimes arising from elder fraud. 

In one case, David Pickelman, 46, defrauded two elderly investors out of over $300,000. He was indicted in June 2017, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in October 2017 and is awaiting sentencing.

In another case, a federal grand jury indicted three men earlier in February for conspiring to commit mail fraud.

Two of the defendants, Assaad El-Atat, 19, and Raphael Paquette, 20, are Canadian citizens. The third defendant is Khaled Hassan, 32, of Dearborn Heights. 

The indictment alleged that they agreed with each other and others to make phone calls to several intending to defraud them. The caller would identify himself as a police officer or attorney and would say that a relative of the person called had been arrested and needed bail money.

As a result, the indictment alleges, the elderly victims sent money to the defendants, but no relative of any of the victims had been arrested or needed bail money. 

In January, El-Atat and Paquette were arrested in Burton, Michigan. Agents searched their car and found $39,800 U.S. currency in the glove box and a ledger showing dates and amounts totaling over $200,000.