Con man defrauds sympathetic elderly man out of $400,000

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(Photo: Colorado Department of Corrections)

DENVER — He said he had no family and no money. He said he needed help paying for diabetes treatments. He said he needed help paying taxes.

He said it was just a loan that would be reimbursed in full.

Akihiko Siegfried, 54, admitted to as much during his mail fraud and money laundering trail Monday. Siegfried pled guilty to both charges and admitted he conned an elderly man out of $400,000.

The scheme lasted from 2008 to 2013. Much of it was while Siegfried was in jail.

According to court documents and his indictment, Siegfried first met the victim, an 89-year-old man of Japanese descent, when he knocked on his door in January 2008.

Siegfried said his parents had just died in a car crash and that he had no money and no family to turn to help, said U.S. Justice Department spokesman Jeff Dorschner.

He asked to borrow some money. The man asked if Siegfried was Japanese, and he lied saying yes.

The victim “felt sorry for Siegfried and, in part because of their shared Japanese heritage, decided to help Siegfried,” Dorschner said.

Siegfried took advantage of the man’s generosity several times in 2008. He told the victim that he would inherit a substantial amount of money as a result of his parent’s death, Dorschner said.

The inheritance however was tied up in probate. Siegfried told the victim he needed money to pay for taxes and fees to free the money.

In reality Siegfried’s father had died in the 1990s and his mother died in 2002, Dorschner said.

“There was never any inheritance held up in probate,” Dorschner said.

In March 2009 Siegfried was sent to jail, yet the confines of prison did not stop his con.

While in jail, “he repeatedly called and sent letters through the mail asking for money, directing the victim to deposit and wire transfer money to Siegfried’s inmate account with the Colorado Department of Corrections,” Dorschner said.

The money was needed, Siegfried said, because he was required to pay for diabetes medicine and for more taxes and fees to get the inheritance — still in probate.

In truth, Siegfried had never been diagnosed with diabetes. The DOC does not charge inmates for medicine prescribed to them while they are in custody.

In October 2012, when Siegfried was released from prison, he received a check payable to himself in the amount of $49,655.30 from the State of Colorado, Department of Corrections, Dorschner said. At least $10,000 of this money was proceeds of the fraud scheme.

Siegfried was investigated for the fraud shortly after leaving jail.

“All too often, con men prey on our senior citizens and steal their life savings,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Protecting the public – and particularly seniors – from fraud is one of the top priorities of this office. The defendant in this case will face the full weight of the law at sentencing.”

Siegfried’s sentence will likely include an order of restitution to the victim of at least $400,000 and up to $560,861.

He also faces up to 20 years in prison for the mail fraud charge and 10 years for the money laundering. Each charges also carries a fine of up to $250,000.

Dorschner said it’s not likely that Siegfried will ever be able to pay the victim back.

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