Seniors swindled out of $400k in gold bars in scheme masterminded by shadowy figure known as ‘Rocky’

Three .9999 fine gold bars, 400 troy ounces or 28 lbs each, with a combined value of more than  USD 2 million, are displayed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing August 27, 2012, in Washington, DC (AFP via Getty Images)
Three .9999 fine gold bars, 400 troy ounces or 28 lbs each, with a combined value of more than USD 2 million, are displayed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing August 27, 2012, in Washington, DC (AFP via Getty Images)

A pair of elderly Floridians were allegedly scammed out of around $400,000 in gold bars by a swindler who convinced them over the phone they faced “arrest” over fraudulent Amazon activity.

Police say that the individuals were targeted by a mysterious figure called “Rocky” who arranged for them to buy gold bars and drop them off with a courier.

That driver was arrested in a sting operation after a 78-year-old victim contacted the Martin County Sheriff’s Office in Florida to report fraud on May 30. He told officials he had been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the phone, according to court documents obtained by The Smoking Gun.

In early May, the victim, who has not been identified, said he got a phone call from a man who claimed to work for Amazon. He told him that there had been fraudulent activity on his account with the shopping giant.

The victim told investigators he was then transferred to a ‘Brian Alba,’ who claimed to be a government agent and that several warrants were out for his arrest, the documents state.

However, Alba said he could help the man avoid arrest and ordered him to get a cashier’s check for $154,000 to purchase gold. Alba told the man that he would in turn send him a cashier’s check after he received the gold.

After obtaining two one-kilo gold bars from a jewelry store, the victim was instructed to meet at Benny’s Pizza on May 24. The scammer told him to package the gold in an old iPhone box and to wrap it in Christmas paper to make it look like a gift.

Alba, who was on the phone with the man the entire time he was driving to the pickup location, instructed the victim on what to do throughout the exchange.

At the meet, he told the victim to approach a dark-colored four-door sedan car and to place the gold in the backseat. The vehicle drove away when the gold was inside.

After the drop-off, the victim “began to feel like the entire thing was a scam,” and contacted the authorities.

Working with investigators, the victim arranged a second setup with Alba on 20 June, with the alleged scammer expecting $200,000 worth of gold, court documents showed.

Alba directed the man to a Winn-Dixie supermarket, where the victim had with him a wrapped box containing fishing weights, not gold.

Deputies from the Criminal Investigations Division with the sheriff’s office were on scene to witness the handover which this time involved a small light blue Toyota that was driven by a man who was “on the phone during the transaction as well.”

After the handover, the driver left the scene and was promptly arrested during a traffic stop.

The driver was identified as 21-year-old Tejaskumar Patel, who lives in Chicago with his family but claimed to have come to Florida to visit his brother.

After Patel gave investigators a series of seemingly false statements he was arrested for grand theft.

During questioning, he told them he was being paid by “someone he knows as ‘Rocky’” to pick up packages and deliver them to drop-off locations provided via WhatsApp or a phone call, court documents stated.

Patel claimed that ‘Rocky’ had been paying for his travel, rental cars, and hotels since he began working for the shadowy figure in May, and he had only carried out around six jobs for him.

The court documents state that the WhatsApp messages showed ‘Rocky’ had sent Patel “all over the country” and directed him to pick up gold from a 77-year-old woman in Florida earlier on 20 June.

Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is also expected to charge Patel with additional counts after a victim was scammed out of $242,000 worth of gold and cash, the documents add.

Patel “pointed out that all the people he picked up gold from were Americans, and that everyone he delivered the gold to, were from India.”

While Patel told detectives he thought this was “weird,” he said whenever he asked about it, ‘Rocky’ told him to “just focus on his job.”

Patel claimed he had no idea the gold he was driving around was “obtained through fraudulent means,” according to the court documents.

Patel is currently in Martin County Jail facing two counts of theft over $100k and scheme to defraud, The Smoking Gun reports. He made his initial appearance in court on Friday.