SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - A man from the Bronx was sentenced to five years in New Jersey State Prison for stealing over $140,000 from eight older residents in 2020, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. Osvaldo Thomas, age 41, pleaded guilty to charges of theft by deception in the state’s Superior Court.
Thomas ran what is called a ‘grandparent scam’ by calling senior citizens and claiming their grandchild was arrested. Residents would hand over money to Thomas, believing he was an attorney who could get their grandchild out of jail.
In May, 2020, he stole $20,000 from a South Brunswick woman in Kendall Park by pretending to be her son’s lawyer. Later that day, Thomas was arrested in North Jersey with help from the South Brunswick Police, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police and the FBI.
“Grandparent scams cause losses totaling in the tens of millions of dollars each year to victims in the United States,” said Attorney General Grewal in a press release. “This prison sentence sends a clear message that we will not tolerate criminals who prey on older adults, particularly con artists who scam victims by exploiting their love and concern for their grandchildren. What is more egregious, this defendant callously took advantage of the victims’ isolation from their families during the pandemic and their fears about the coronavirus.”
Thomas stole sums ranging from $10,300 to $27,000, according to the press release. Under the plea agreement, he is responsible for paying full restitution of $142,900 to the victims.
Residents can report fraud or any illegal activity by calling the Division of Justice’s tip line at 1-866-TIPS-4CJ or by visiting the state website.
The Attorney General’s office thanked the following officers for their work:
● Detective Anthony Sorrentino, Cherry Hill Police Department
● Detective Randy Patner, East Hanover Police Department
● Detective Joseph Zeppetelli, East Hanover Police Department
● Detective Thomas Laird, Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office
● Detective Nicholas Aumendo, Gloucester Township Police Department
● Detective Anthony Zamora, Clifton Police Department
● Lt. Robert Baracken, Clifton Police Department
● Detective Peter Ricciardi, Boonton Township Police Department
● Detective Domenick Delucia, South Brunswick Police Department
● Sgt. Sasha Higazi, Bound Brook Police Department
● Detective Jonathan Berger, Essex Fells Police Department
● Detective Alex Burchardt, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office
● Detective Sgt. M. Braccioforte, New Jersey State Police