Florida Resident Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy in Connection with Jamaican Based Lottery Fraud Scheme
Cassandra Althea Palmer, a resident of Florida, pleaded guilty for her role in a Jamaican-based fraudulent lottery scheme, the Department of Justice announced today.
Palmer, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent lottery scheme. An Information was filed on Oct. 26, charging Palmer with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
“The Justice Department is committed to combatting international lottery fraud schemes preying on innocent Americans,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The help of a co-conspirator in the United States makes it easier for these international fraud schemes to succeed. We will continue to investigate and often prosecute individuals residing in the United States or abroad when they commit fraud against Americans.”
As part of her guilty plea, Palmer agreed that, had the case gone to trial, the United States would have proved the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt: In February 2014, a woman from Worcester County, Maryland, was contacted by an individual in Jamaica and told that she had won a multi-million dollar lottery prize, and that in order to collect her lottery prize, she first had to pay taxes and fees. The victim did not win a lottery prize and would not collect any winnings. Palmer knew about the fraud scheme and agreed with her co-conspirator in Jamaica to participate in the scheme. Palmer participated in the fraudulent scheme in a number of ways. Among other things, she worked with her co-conspirator in Jamaica, to recruit a friend in Maryland to receive $7,500 of the victim’s money. She and her friend kept a portion of the money, and Palmer wire transferred the rest to her Jamaican co-conspirator.
The fraudulent scheme ended when law enforcement officials learned of the fraud. Officials set up a sting, in which an undercover police officer posed as the victim and met Palmer’s friend at a fast food restaurant parking lot in Maryland. The purpose of the meeting was for the victim to hand over $32,500 in cash to Palmer’s friend in order for the victim to claim her purported lottery winnings. Law enforcement arrested Palmer’s friend on the spot, after she received $32,500 in cash from the officer.
Palmer faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense. Palmer must also pay restitution to the victim. Palmer’s sentencing is scheduled for March 22, 2017.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is dedicated as part of its mission to ensure that these types of predatory schemes are investigated aggressively,” said U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Antonio J. Gomez of the Miami Division. “It is imperative that we continue to work with our partners, both domestically and internationally, to protect our citizens who fall prey to these schemes so that the U.S. mail isn’t used in furtherance of them.”
This prosecution is part of the Department of Justice’s effort to work with federal and local law enforcement to combat fraudulent lottery schemes in Jamaica that prey on American citizens. According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Maryland State Police, who conducted the investigation, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney David A. Frank and Counsel Melanie Singh of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl.