A Worcester, MA, resident appeared in federal court in Providence today and admitted to participating in a fraud scheme that, among other things, intended to defraud a Portsmouth, RI, senior of $7,500, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
Fangzhou Qian, 29, admitted to being a member of a conspiracy that contacted victims via telephone and, fraudulently posing as a representative of the victims’ bank, told them that their bank account had been compromised. Victims were instructed to withdraw large amounts of money from their bank account in order to protect their assets, and to provide the funds in cash to a member of the conspiracy who, posing as a courier, would soon arrive at their residence.
According to information presented to the court, in May 2023, a member of the conspiracy, posing as “Sam,” a bank employee, contacted a 73-year-old Portsmouth, RI , resident and falsely informed him that his bank account had been compromised. The Portsmouth senior was instructed to withdraw $7,500 from his bank account and provide the money to a courier, later identified by law enforcement as Qian, who would stop by his residence that day. The Portsmouth resident withdrew the money, but notified law enforcement of the potential scam call. Qian was intercepted by law enforcement before being able to retrieve the money and was arrested.
According to information presented to the court, members of the conspiracy used some of the funds stolen from their victims to purchase large quantities of gift cards. Qian admitted to purchasing 170 Apple gift cards from various stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the same timeframe during which members of the conspiracy, including Qian, were attempting to defraud the Portsmouth resident.
Qian pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. A sentencing hearing is scheduled on January 17, 2024. The defendant’s sentences will be determined by a federal district judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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