Friday, October 23, 2015

Georgia Resident Sentenced to Prison in Connection with Fraudulent Lottery Scheme Based in Jamaica

A Douglasville, Georgia, man was sentenced after pleading guilty to his role in a Jamaican-based fraudulent lottery scheme that targeted victims in the United States, the Department of Justice announced today.  This prosecution is part of the Department of Justice’s effort, working with federal, state and local law enforcement, to combat lottery fraud schemes from Jamaica preying on American citizens.  According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries.

Dominic Hugh Smith, 27, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina to serve 27 months in prison and one year of supervised release.  Smith was also ordered to pay $724,408.79 in restitution.  In June 2014, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the conduct of telemarketing. Prior to pleading guilty, Smith had been employed both as a Transportation Security Administration agent and an Atlanta Police Department police officer.

“International lottery fraud aimed at stealing from elderly victims cannot, and will not, be tolerated by the Department of Justice,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will seek to hold accountable those who participate in illegal lottery schemes, including those in the United States who facilitate schemes directed from abroad as well as those who operate from foreign countries.”

“As these types of financial scams continue to grow in scope and sophistication, we will utilize all resources to prosecute and deter such criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina.  “Now more than ever, the public needs to be mindful of these schemes to avoid falling prey to them.  Greedy criminals looking to line their pockets with money stolen from our nation’s seniors will ultimately face American justice.”

As part of his guilty plea, Smith acknowledged that had the case gone to trial, the government would have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that from December 2010 through at least April 2012, he was a member of a conspiracy in which elderly victims were informed by telephone that they had won a large amount of money and prizes in a lottery and were induced to pay bogus fees in advance of receiving their purported lottery winnings.  Victims sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Smith in the United States.  Smith acknowledged that the government would have proved that he knew there was no lottery, and that he, along with his coconspirators, kept the victims’ money for their own benefit.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer and U.S. Attorney Rose commended the investigative efforts of the USPIS and the Internal Revenue Service.  The sentencing was handled by Trial Attorney Stephen T. Descano of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

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