Financial Crime: Ne’er-do-well grandson admits stealing $679,000 from his own grandparents for phony college tuition payments — he pretended to be attending Oxford

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He had no respect for his elders.

A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to ripping off his own grandparents to the tune of $679,000, preying on their interest in paying for him to go to college but pocketing the tuition payments instead and never going to class.

Douglas Senerth, 32, of South Windsor, had convinced his grandparents that he was attending Assumption College in Massachusetts and later Oxford University in England for which they agreed to pay his tuition, prosecutors said.

Between 2011 and 2019, the grandparents gave Senerth approximately $419,000 to attend school. He instead kept the money and was never actually enrolled at either school, according to court filings.

An attorney for Senerth didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.

To cover up his lies, prosecutors say Senerth created false college transcripts, letters and emails from imaginary officials at Assumption claiming he was a top student there.

“Prosecutors say Douglas Senerth created false college transcripts, letters and emails from imaginary officials at Assumption claiming he was a top student there.”

One forged letter claimed that Senerth was “a good standing student at Assumption College for a little over three years now and that he had made the Dean’s List every single semester,” according to court papers.

After his grandfather died in 2016, prosecutors said he continued to fleece his grandmother, convincing her to give him an additional $260,000 to invest in a fund Senerth claimed was being run by a professor at Oxford. Neither the professor nor the fund actually existed.  

In 2019, when relatives grew suspicious of the purported investment fund, Senerth began writing phony emails from the professor, John Reed, claiming that the money had grown by 11.75% per year to $368,000. The emails later claimed that Reed was traveling to the U.S. and would meet with them, but then came up with numerous excuses for why he couldn’t come.

Senerth was indicted on fraud charges in June 2021, but was already in custody in Connecticut, where he had been charged for a string of burglaries near his home and also for a probation violation stemming from a 2017 conviction for selling ammunition illegally

Senerth pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in May. He has also agreed to pay $680,000 in restitution.

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