SALT LAKE CITY — A 79-year-old Mona man is accused of trying to dupe a Missouri woman by creating a fake sweepstakes, in addition to allegations he created fake credit accounts under the names of his vulnerable sons.
Investigators believe he may have attempted financial schemes because he was a victim of one himself, according to court documents.
On April 1, Raymond Everett Huffman was charged in Juab County's 4th District Court with two counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony; 10 counts of unlawful acquisition of a financial card, a third-degree felony; and attempted theft by deception, a third-degree felony.
According to charging documents, between April 1, 2018, and March 29, 2019, Huffman opened five credit card accounts under his two sons' names.
"The sons are vulnerable adults by reason of their inability to manage their own resources and some developmental delays," the charges state. "He used the credit obtained on these cards to 'make investments' for them."
The sons told investigators that they would sign whatever Huffman put in front of them out of fear he would become angry if they didn't, according to charging documents.
Prosecutors say Huffman was a victim of a financial scheme himself "and used the money of his sons to attempt to pull himself out of the schemes."
"The entire situation came to light in February 2019, when it was discovered that (Huffman) or someone affiliated with him, as part of a fraudulent scheme, contacted an elderly woman in … Missouri, and informed her she had won a sweepstakes prize," the charges state.
According to both a Juab County Jail booking report and a search warrant affidavit unsealed in 4th District Court, Huffman convinced the woman in Missouri that she had won a $1 million sweepstakes, but in order for her to collect her prize she needed to send him $25,000 for fees.
The woman's daughter discovered what was happening, however, and was able to report it to authorities in time for the U.S. Postal Service to intercept the money her mother had already sent, the charges state. When Huffman attempted to receive his package, the Postal Service would not give it to him, the charges state.
Upon further investigation, the local postmaster told law enforcers that Huffman "has received other mailings which appear to be the same in nature" and that Huffman asks other people "to obtain money orders for him in a possible attempt to conceal his involvement with obtaining monies," the jail report states.
"Based on these circumstances, (U.S. Postal Inspector Travis Smoot) believes Raymond to be involved in various schemes where he is the intended recipient and acting as an intermediary (aka "money mule") for which he receives monies or goods and forwards them to other individuals and receives a small portion for his assistance. Since this case was opened up I have received calls from law enforcement in Michigan, Maryland and New York. I have contacted the Department of Treasury to assist in investigating the out-of-state fraud," according to the report.
Investigators learned from other family members that Huffman "got involved with scammers around March of last year … (and) started sending money to these people," the report states.Comment on this story
Huffman "was promised anything from money, cars, plane trips, and other things," according to the report. Huffman's family "had several meetings with him. In the meeting, they would ask him to stop what he was doing because he is losing all of his money," according to the report.
But Huffman allegedly "took this as a challenge," the report states.
Several banks "have flagged Raymond's accounts as fraud. They could not divulge very much information; however, most of his accounts are frozen. The bank managers also described Raymond as being very pushy and being a 'bully,'" according to the report.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 7.