A Canadian man pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in a scheme to dupe Southland grandparents into believing their grandchildren or other relatives were in danger in foreign countries and immediately required money.
Pascal Gaudreault, 47, entered his plea to one federal count of wire fraud, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner set May 20 for sentencing in Los Angeles federal court.
Gaudreault and his co-defendants contacted grandparents throughout the Southland and falsely told them that money needed to be sent to resolve a relative’s purported problem, such as a car accident, in which bail money or repair expenses were immediately needed.
The defendants — who had no actual association with the relatives — instructed the grandparents to use wire transfer services to send money that did not end up going to help their grandchildren or other relatives, according to the 2012 indictment.
In some cases, the victims were contacted again to send additional money to fully resolve their relative’s supposed problem.
Wire transfers were sent from victims in six California cities, including Burbank, Canyon Country, Tarzana and Irvine. The transfers involved amounts ranging from $1,000 to nearly $3,000, according to court papers.
Investigators determined that the grandparents were identified through mass-produced lead lists that targeted a specific victim demographic.
Pascal Goyer, 35, was sentenced in November 2014 to five years in federal prison for orchestrating the scheme, according to court papers.