A Jamaican national, who was previously extradited to the United States from Jamaica, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in connection with a fraudulent Jamaica-based lottery scheme that targeted elderly victims in the United States.
According to court documents, Antony Linton Stewart, 39, of St. James Parish, Jamaica, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
As part of his plea agreement, Stewart admitted that he contacted elderly Americans by telephone and falsely told them that they had won money and other prizes in a sweepstakes or lottery. Stewart told victims that they needed to send money to pay fees and taxes on their winnings. Stewart contacted victims repeatedly for as long as they could be persuaded to send additional money. At Stewart’s direction, victims used wire transfers and the U.S. Postal Service, among other means, to send money to individuals in the United States and Jamaica who served as intermediaries and transmitted the money to Stewart. In fact, no lottery ever existed, and no victim ever received any money or other prizes. The scheme defrauded victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch is committed to investigating fraudulent schemes targeting elderly Americans, wherever those schemes are based,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Stewart is the latest example in the department’s ongoing efforts to root out and deter fraud from foreign locations that targets our most vulnerable consumers.”
“Each year, millions of older Americans suffer heavy financial losses in the hands of scammers operating in the United States and abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Dena J. King for the Western District of North Carolina. “Today’s guilty plea underscores our efforts to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of elder fraud schemes no matter where they originate. We will continue to join forces with our law enforcement counterparts to do all we can to stop these criminals from stealing from our seniors.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is committed to investigating those who use the U.S. Mail to commit fraud and target elderly and vulnerable American citizens both domestically and abroad,” said Inspector in Charge Christopher A. Nielsen of the USPIS Philadelphia Division. “Today’s plea exemplifies the unwavering efforts of Postal Inspectors in collaboration with our law enforcement partners – here in the United States and around the world – to bring these callous criminals to justice.”
The USPIS investigated the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Jamaica to secure the arrest and extradition of Stewart. The U.S. Marshals Service also provided significant assistance.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Raquel Toledo and Trial Attorney Ryan E. Norman of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jenny G. Sugar and Daniel Ryan for the Western District of North Carolina.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.