How did 'On Golden Pond' Scam 50 Seniors and the State of CA?

Dena Peterman, to my amateur eye, certainly didn't look like a criminal mastermind as she sat timidly awaiting a post-indictment arraignment in Federal Court in Downtown Los Angeles. Yet, that's the allegation. She's been charged by the feds with operating an ID theft and fraud scam that targeted seniors and scammed the California Employment Development Department out of half a million dollars.

The way she allegedly did it was what caught our eye. She allegedly had recruiters working for her go to senior centers in California and Oregon and tell the elderly residents that for a small processing fee they might be able to appear in an in-the-works sequel to the 1980s classic films "On Golden Pond'' or "Cocoon''. They were required to give up private personal information, such as Social Security numbers, to these scammers. Surprise, there were no sequels.

The indictment alleges Peterman and her colleagues created about 15 bogus production companies, complete with employment records of their victims, and then claimed those folks were laid off and entitled to unemployment benefits, which Peterman had mailed directly to her. It worked for almost two years, until red flags went off for state fraud investigators who saw so many benefits being mailed to the same couple of addresses. Flash forward, she's in federal custody, looking at a long prison sentence for ID theft and mail fraud. And once again we hear the warning we've all heard over and over again, but some people apparently don't pay attention to. Don't give out your personal information!

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