The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization statute is a federal law that focuses on those in charge of and those who assist an organization that is accused of illegal acts. Michigan readers may be interested in the prosecution of a 36-year-old woman under the RICO Act for scams targeting senior citizens.

Prosecutors told a court that a group of three people participated in the so-called Georgia Powers scam that focused on swindling senior citizens. They phoned up people, drove to their houses and allegedly lied to them to obtain credit card details or Social Security information.

The defendants reportedly registered a prepaid mobile phone under the name Georgia Powers, which is very similar to one of Atlanta's local power suppliers. They then scanned the phonebook looking for names traditionally associated with older people. The victims were apparently told their power would be cut off immediately as their check had an incorrect date or that they were behind on payments. To avoid this, they had to pay a fee. This reportedly happened during the summer of 2009.

In some cases, victims handed over credit cards and Social Security numbers. Some of these were allegedly used to withdraw cash, pay for items or pay for food. The scam reportedly affected nearly 200 people.

One of the defendants has a prior conviction for this sort of scam in Michigan, dating back to 2003. This could be taken into consideration during the latest trial. Racketeering charges can have serious legal penalties. Because of this, it's important to understand your rights if you are facing charges. In fact, it may be beneficial to seek legal advice even you merely suspect you are being investigated for such a crime. It can go a long way toward protecting your freedom.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Trial begins for alleged 'Georgia Powers' scammer," Marcus K. Garner, Oct. 3, 2012