Vermont grandparents victims of LA man’s bail scam

Phony ‘bail-bondsman’ said $$ needed to bail out grandchildren, couldn’t tell others due to ‘gag order’

by Mike Donoghue, Vermont News First

A Los Angeles area man pleaded guilty in federal court in Burlington on Monday to being part of a scam that took at least $636,000 from unsuspecting grandparents that thought they were bailing out their grandchild from legal problems.

William T. Comfort, 28, admitted to two felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering between April 2022 and June 2022 in Vermont and other states.

William Comfort

Under the plea agreement, Comfort agreed to pay restitution to the victims of his crimes in an amount to be determined by the court, but not less than $636,000, Senior Federal Judge William K. Sessions III said.

The Homeland Security Investigations in Vermont determined there were fraud cases committed throughout the United States as part of the conspiracy. At least 15 victims have been identified in Vermont.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathanael Burris explained Monday the conspirators would set up shop for a week or so in a state and start working the phones seeking elderly victims. A person, pretending to be a lawyer or some other legal official, would call to report their grandchild was in legal problems.

The caller explained that between $7,000 and $30,000 was needed to bail out the grandchild. A person posing as a bail bondsman would work with the grandparent to collect the money, Burris said.

The caller also would explain that there was “a gag order” in the court case and the grandparent should say nothing to anybody or their grandchild would face additional consequences, Burris said.

Comfort posed as a bail bondsman in some cases. He would get 10% of what money he collected, Burris said.

News reports show that Comfort was arrested for fraud charges in Colonie, New York, a year ago.

Police said Comfort was a suspect in a similar scam in the Capital Region of Albany, New York.

Comfort also had an arrest warrant for a similar scam in the Wausau, Wisconsin, area between May 6 and May 11, 2022, records show. Court documents in Wisconsin indicated Comfort posed as both a lawyer and a bail bondsman, according to news reports.

Comfort also was facing charges in two other Wisconsin counties, news accounts noted.

Judge Sessions agreed to allow Comfort to remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service in Vermont pending sentencing. Sessions ordered a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office and set the date for Oct. 16.

Each crime carries up to a 20-year prison sentence. The money laundering count also has a fine of up to $500,000, while the conspiracy charge also has a fine up to $250,000, Sessions explained.

Categories: Crime

5 replies »

  1. As relative of an elderly relative that was bilked by the same fraud, there is no punishment too great. Using love of family to prey on the most vulnerable is beyond disgust. I suspect thousands of others feel the same way. With William Comfort’s image and easily searched address, I suspect he will be looking over his shoulder until his last breath.

  2. My elderly father, who is hard of hearing, was also scammed out of $9,500.00, same story, the scammer used my son (his grandson) made him swear to secrecy, and my dad misunderstood how much money they were asking him to send them, so he sent $1,500 CASH instead of $15,000 to an “for sale” house in PA. When The scammer called him back and started yelling at him that they told him “$15,000” or my son would remain in jail until then. Caller was claiming he was an attorney and he could hear what he thought was my son crying in the background saying, Grandpa, please don’t leave me in jail, I will die of Covid. My father said he didn’t have $15,000, they asked how much he had? and he said $8,000.00. Caller said, we’ll take that and it will work. So my dad sent them $8,000.00 CASH more. Of course my father was embarrassed, but he thought he was helping me out. What a world we live in. Now he’s in a assisted living where he could used that money to pay for his living situation.

  3. I was called by my “grandson” who said he needed money. I told him to meet me at the ST Johnsbury state police barracks and I would give him the cash. Next thing I know, all I heard was a dial tone.

  4. Old person here. Just two simple rules, If you don’t recognize the number don’t answer the phone. If it’s important they will leave a message. Rule two. If someone needs money to get out of jail….. well you figured out how to get in jail you figure out how to get out.

  5. A few years ago, I got a call from my grandson that he was arrested in FL and needed mony for bail and an attorney. Gave me a number to call to get instructions on how to send it. Only problem was that I don’t have any grandkids