PITTSBURGH, PA — A jury convicted co-defendants Roderick Feurtado, 56, and Tarek Bouanane, 47, both of Las Vegas, Nevada, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Friday, September 29, 2023, following a five-day trial in federal court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, announced United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan.
Evidence at trial established that the defendants traveled to the Pittsburgh area in September 2021 to execute a scheme to defraud elderly victims of large amounts of cash. As part of the scheme, members of the conspiracy contacted numerous victims and falsely claimed that a family member of the victims, usually a grandchild, had been detained in connection with a legal proceeding and needed money for bail. The victims were directed to withdraw cash and provide it to a “courier” who would visit them at their homes. In reality, the victims’ family members had not been detained, and the “courier” was actually a member of the conspiracy. Tarek Bouanane acted as one of these “couriers,” while his co-conspirator Roderick Feurtado acted as the “safehouse,” who gave directions to the couriers and collected the money that had been obtained from the victims. The defendants kept a portion of the fraud proceeds for themselves, and they had plans to pass along the rest to other co-conspirators, including by converting it to cryptocurrency. During the investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police seized approximately $220,000 from the defendants; the co-conspirators were responsible for at least $250,000 in total victim losses in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere as a result of the conspiracy.
“The evidence, in this case, showed that Bouanane and Feurtado participated in a sophisticated scheme that preyed on elderly victims who were tricked into handing over thousands of dollars in cash because they thought they were helping a loved one who was in trouble,” said U.S. Attorney Olshan. “The jury’s quick verdict provides a measure of justice for the victims in this case and should serve as a reminder that our office and our law enforcement partners will continue to hold accountable those who would victimize the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
“Feurtado and Bouanane represent the worst that society has to offer. They prey upon the love and concern that our amazing senior citizens have for their families,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia William S. Walker. “HSI Philadelphia is extremely proud of our special agents in the Pittsburgh office. Once again, they have proven that through cooperation and side by side investigations with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Bethel Park Police Department, law enforcement can and will protect our most valuable and treasured citizens.”
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey R. Bengel and Michael R. Ball prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Pennsylvania State Police, and Bethel Park Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the convictions in this case.