A Jamaican citizen is facing justice in America for allegedly cheating elderly people out of more than $5 million with a scam that charged them a fee to cash in on phony sweepstakes prizes, authorities said.
Federal prosecutors charged Adrian Lawrence in a six-count indictment that accuses him of mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud elderly U.S. citizens.
Lawrence and his accomplices cheated at least 50 people out of more than $5 million over the last 10 years, federal prosecutors said.
“Lawrence and his co-conspirators preyed on dozens of elderly persons, contacting the victims by phone and email, spinning the lie that they had won a sweepstakes prize, then having gained their trust, betrayed them by extracting a purported fee to collect the non-existent winnings,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.
Lawrence and his team would call or email elderly victims and falsely tell them they had won certain sweepstakes contests that were sponsored by Publishers Clearing House, prosecutors said.
They also told the victims that in order to cash in, they needed to wire or transfer money to various bank accounts and to mail checks and cash to Lawrence’s co-conspirators throughout the U.S. to pay for “fees.”
Officials said Lawrence used a variety of aliases, email addresses and phone numbers to pull off the scam. At least 50 victims, whose average age was 81 years old, sent more than $5.6 million to Lawrence and his accomplices, according to the indictment.
Lawrence was detained last month in Panama and extradited to the U.S. on Feb. 8.
If convicted, Lawrence faces up to 20 years in prison.