News and Press Releases

two sentenced in elder fraud scam

March 15, 2012

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today two Canadians were sentenced for targeting the elderly in a fraud scam.  CLAYTON ATKINSON, 33,  received 151 months imprisonment followed by five years supervised release.  DAVID STEWART, 62, received 78 months imprisonment followed by three years supervised release.  The Court also ordered restitution of $840,705.00 to be paid.

On March 5, 2008, a Federal Grand Jury returned an Indictment.  On August 3, 2011, and September 20, 2011, respectively, STEWART and ATKINSON each pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud.

According to the investigation, from December, 2004, to April, 2007, the defendants, operating in and around the Montreal, Canada, area, devised a scheme in which they called elderly United States citizens, falsely telling them they had won a large prize in a sweepstakes or lottery.  The defendants then convinced the victims to send money in order to receive their prize.

The victims were identified from a lead list that ATKINSON, the leader, purchased from a Montreal business.  Characteristics ATKINSON desired of the victims included ready sources of money, availability during the day to answer the phone and vulnerability due to infirmities of age.  Pre-paid cellular phones were obtained under false names to contact the victims.  When a victim answered the phone fictitious names, titles and company names were used.    

“The determination and dedication of the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the United States Attorney;s Office, assisted by the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, has made it possible to bring to justice these defendants who preyed upon the elderly,” stated Mr. Walker.

“This case is a good example of cooperation between law enforcement officials in two neighboring countries,” said Staff Sergeant Yves Leblanc of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  “Criminals in our two countries used to take advantage of being across a border from the victims, this is no longer the case.”

"In these desperate times people take unusual financial risks.  These men profited from that vulnerability until the FBI and our law enforcement partners tracked them across the border to Canada and brought justice to the victims in North Carolina," said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.

“State and federal authorities are working together closely to target cross border telemarketing fraud and make the criminals pay,“ North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said.  “While catching criminals outside the U.S. is difficult, we’re putting fraudsters from other countries who rip off North Carolina seniors on notice.”

The investigation determined that at least 39 victims in various states, including North Carolina, had been defrauded and the defendants had fraudulently obtained at least $840,705.00.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, Elder Fraud Unit; and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Assistant United States Attorney J Gaston B. Williams prosecuted the case.

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