Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced indictments in connection with an organized scam that targeted elderly victims in Ohio, along with new scam prevention efforts to protect Ohio seniors during National Consumer Protection Week. 

A RossCounty Grand Jury indicted Charles Kuhn, Jr., and six others for ripping off seniors in a scam that promised a big return on money given up front, said DeWine.

According to DeWine, Kuhn and his associates impersonated lawyers, judges, and even Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, while stealing about $400,000 since 2011.

“It’s unbelievable the lies these scammers told, including impersonating me as part of their elaborate fraudulent scheme,” said Attorney General DeWine during a news conference, Tuesday. “To prey on the elderly is despicable. This is exactly why I created our Consumer Economic Crimes Unit – to investigate the worst scammers and hold them accountable. Just like in this case, we want to help local law enforcement anywhere our help is needed.” 

Ross County Prosecutor Matthew Schmidt, Ross County Sheriff George Lavender, and PickawayCounty Sheriff Robert B. Radcliff attended the news conference to help share the news that this particular con will not continue.

“It’s great to have more resources to help try to put these con artists in prison,” said Ross Prosecutor Schmidt. “We all want the same thing: to stop elderly scams and all scams.” 

“It’s sad to see these victims who have worked their whole life and then to lose their retirement, their security,” said PickawayCounty Sheriff Radcliff.  “We as law enforcement must continue working together for our victims, connecting the dots and bringing these individuals to justice.”

“These cases are complicated, but the hard work is worth putting a stop to the scams, so hopefully others won’t be victims,” said Ross County Sheriff Lavender.   

The six victims are from Ross, Pickaway, and Hocking counties. According to DeWine, some were told that Kuhn, 47, of Circleville, was expecting big money from a pending lawsuit, and by assisting him with legal fees, they would receive large interest on their investment; others were told they were beneficiaries of an estate, and they stood to inherit millions after paying some fees.

Kuhn had his accomplices get cash or checks from the victims, said DeWine; checks were cashed and proceeds were shared. Sometimes heroin, instead of cash, was the accepted payment for being part of the scam, according to DeWine.

Indicted out of RossCounty are: Charles Kuhn, Jr., Brad Davis, Kevin Dunn, and Mark Peoples, all of Circleville; Susan Dowland and Jennifer Pummell, both of Stoutsville; Curtis Smith, of Derby. All have been charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft from an elderly person, telecommunications fraud, and conspiracy, according to DeWine.

Attorney General DeWine also announced two new programs to help prevent more victims of scams.  

A new consumer education program will educate junior high and high school students, as well as adults. It’s called CHIPP- Cybersecurity Help, Information, and Protection Program. It covers security and privacy issues on a variety of electronic devices. 

In addition, 40,000 senior citizens who receive meals like those from the Meals on Wheels program, will soon be getting a flyer from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office that warns them about scams. This partnership will put the information in the hands of 40,000 seniors in every county in Ohio.