Cops, Courts and Fire

PA Officials Issue Warning After Making Arrests In Scams Targeting Elderly

State officials have issued a warning to Pennsylvanians.

File photo.

Two arrests of people accused of distinct schemes designed to scam elderly residents out of their money have led to law enforcement issuing a statewide warning.

On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Michelle Henry and Pennsylvania State Police announced the arrests and warned Pennsylvanians.

Jaime Barham, 25, and Francis Rohan, 24, both of Bronx, New York City, were behind bars after allegedly conning a Montgomery County resident through a deceptive Publisher’s Clearinghouse scheme. The victim reportedly lost $130,000 to the duo. Barham and Rohan face charges of participating in corrupt organizations, criminal use of a communication facility, and theft related to the Montgomery County case. They are currently held on $75,000 bail each.

In a separate incident, a Lehigh County resident was targeted in an “anti-virus” online scam. The scammer demanded $15,000 before law enforcement agents intervened. Qiang Li, a resident of Rye, New York, was charged in this case. Li faces accusations of criminal conspiracy to corrupt organizations, computer trespass, unlawful use of a computer, and theft. Unlike the Bronx duo, Li was released on a $50,000 bail.

These cases highlight an ongoing effort by authorities to combat scams, especially those targeting the elderly.

Residents are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities or solicitations to the appropriate authorities.

“Scams against older Pennsylvanians are particularly devastating because many victims are living on fixed incomes and their life savings,” Henry said. “These alleged scammers acted with deliberate intent to defraud their victims of significant amounts of money without consideration of the resulting financial distress. My office encourages friends and family to discuss potential risks with their loved ones.”

Colonel Christopher Paris, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, told reporters, “We want scammers to know that our investigators will work diligently to bring them to justice, and these arrests are examples of that.”

Below is more information directly from the attorney general’s office:

In the Montgomery County sweepstakes scam, the defendants directed the victim to send cash and gift cards, which they did.

In the Lehigh County case, the defendant caused a pop-up to appear on the victim’s computer screen, purportedly from an anti-virus company. The defendant then took over the victim’s computer to obtain personal information and informed the victim they owed $15,000 regarding the “anti-virus” program. Undercover agents intervened in the exchange of cash, at a grocery store parking lot.

The Office of Attorney General offers this guidance to older Pennsylvanians, their families, and anyone else targeted for solicitation:

  • Never send money or gift cards to someone you do not know. Also, gift cards are for gifts, not for paying debts or bills.
  • If you are suspicious or have concerns about a solicitation, call your local police or the OAG hotline at 800-441-2555.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “Sweepstakes” scams have been common for years, so be vigilant and use common sense. If you did not sign up for a sweepstakes, you could not have won.
  • Sign up for scam warning text alerts from the Office of Attorney General. Mobile carrier rates may apply.

The Office of Attorney General recommends an acronym to evaluate unsolicited phone calls or emails:

S: Sudden – The call or email is unexpected;

C: Contact – Scammers will contact you by phone, email or in-person;

A: Act Now – The request will be urgent and assert penalties if you do not act quickly;

M: Money or Information – The scammer will request money or personal information.

In addition to signing up for text alerts, Pennsylvanians who believe they have been victims of a scam should file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 800-441-2555 or emailing

Editor’s Note: All individuals arrested or charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The story was compiled using information from police and public court documents.

About the author

Alex Irving

Alex Irving is a freelance journalist based in Bucks County. They have been reporting on local news since 2022.

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