CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Maryland resident accused of scamming elderly West Virginians pleaded not guilty to federal charges Tuesday.
Charnita Ryland, 21, of Montgomery, Md., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwayne Tinsley for an arraignment hearing. Her trial begins at 9 a.m. Feb. 25.
Federal prosecutors say Ryland participated in the scheme with Kacey Moise, 28, of Elmont, N.Y., and Sheray McKay, 21, of Suitland, Md. All three are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
Prosecutors assert Ryland, Moise and McKay posed as clergy, family members or lawyers of family members to trick seniors into wiring them money for fake legal costs and damages sustained from fake car crashes.
Sometimes they would claim a family member or member of the clergy had been arrested for driving while intoxicated and needed money, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
The 12-count indictment asserts 18 senior citizens, ranging in age from 70 to 95, wired them more than $60,000 in just one week.
Even after the victim wired the money, they would continue to call and ask for more, not giving up until the senior ran out of money or challenged their identity, the indictment alleges.
McKay appeared in court Monday and also entered a not guilty plea. McKay's trial also is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 25.
Both cases are assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston.
Moise will appear Jan. 23 before Tinsley for arraignment. Each faces up to 20 years in prison.