NEW BRUNSWICK — Two people were arrested for being part of a New Jersey-based ring that scammed seniors across the country out of thousands of dollars.

Erica Puello, 25, of Old Bridge, and Amaury Fernandez, 24, of North Brunswick, were charged with theft by deception and conspiring to commit theft by deception as members of the Middlesex County-based ring that cheated seniors out of amounts of money ranging from $1,000 to $5,500, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.

Members of the ring would pose as a relative or attorneys who needed money sent to them quickly, according to Carey, who credited a detective with the Union County Prosecutor's Office as being the first to discover the ring when a Maryland resident reported being ripped off.

“The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, through its Elder Abuse and Exploitation Team, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute scammers who prey on the vulnerable. These arrests are a result of one of several new and wide-ranging investigations conducted by the team,” said Carey.

People in New Jersey as well as Maryland, Florida, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington, D.C., were victims.

Carey said that "people who receive phone calls seeking money should verify the legitimacy of the call by contacting police from the location of the supposed emergency, or by contacting other friends or relatives who can verify the caller’s information."

Puello and Fernandez were charged with theft by deception and conspiring to commit theft by deception.

Carey asked anyone with information about the scam to call the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3300.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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