Nilo Blanco, 31, William Rodriguez, 35, and Jason Tejada, 41, are charged with felony theft from the elderly.
Parma Police say they scammed Northeast Ohio residents out of at least $60,000 over the last week alone.
Their bond is set at half a million dollars.
Last week, police were contacted by an 86-year-old Parma man who said he gave them $18,000 in cash.
“The victim reported being a victim of a scam where someone had contacted them saying their grandson was in jail and needed money to post bail,” said Lt. Dan Ciryak of Parma Police.
It’s the same scam police said the city law director warned residents about last year.
Here’s how it worked: a victim, usually an elderly person, would get a call and learn a family member was arrested and needed money to get out of jail. Then, a courier would quickly be arranged to pick up the money from the victim.
Just one day after targeting the Parma man, police say the men wanted even more money, reportedly $40,000, from the victim.
“So, the following day, of course, $18,000 wasn’t enough for them, and they came back for more money and that’s when, by then, we had been notified, so we had some officers follow up with the victim and that’s how we were able to catch these three individuals,” said Lt. Ciryak.
This investigation is ongoing and Parma Police have reason to believe these three men might be part of a larger operation targeting the elderly.
Parma Police are working with other police departments across the Cleveland area to continue building their case. They encourage victims of similar scams to also come forward with their story.
“It’s happened before and a lot of times people are afraid to come forward. They’re embarrassed because they’ve fallen for a scam like this,” said Lt. Ciryak.
He encouraged residents not to blindly trust a mysterious caller and hand over any cash before doing some investigation of their own. That includes calling the local agency directly that the caller claims a loved one was arrested by to confirm if the information is accurate.
“Find out what agency they’re allegedly being held at… Who the arresting department is,” said Lt. Ciryak. “Try to get a hold of that department to verify it for yourself. A police department is never going to come out to your house to collect money so there’s a couple of red flags there.”
Police said the victim who paid with cash has not been able to get his money back.