A 29-year-old man was sentenced Monday to 41 months behind bars for his role in a fraud scheme that duped elderly residents of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties into believing their grandchildren were in danger in foreign countries and immediately required cash.

Clifford Kirstein, a Canadian citizen, pleaded guilty last year in Los Angeles federal court to a wire fraud charge, admitting his role as a phone scammer who made calls to victims while impersonating a grandchild in desperate need of cash.

U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney described the offense as a “very cruel, heartless scheme causing great distress to elderly victims.”

The judge ordered that Kirstein was liable, along with his co-defendants, for $56,258 in restitution to be shared between seven victims.

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