Readout of Justice Department Officials' Trip to Ghana and Togo to Advance West Africa Consumer Fraud Initiative
A Jamaican national, who was extradited to the United States, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on charges relating to his participation in a phony sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly victims in the United States.
According to court documents, Damone D. Oakley, 41, of the Point District, St. James Parish, Jamaica, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.
As part of his plea agreement, Oakley admitted that he sought to unlawfully enrich himself through a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims. Oakley’s victims received mailings, text messages, or phone calls in which they were falsely told that they had won millions of dollars and luxury vehicles in a sweepstakes, but first needed to pay taxes and fees in order to claim their winnings. Oakley used a variety of names during the scheme, including “Officer Alex Logan” and “Officer Stan Valentine,” and instructed his victims on how to send their money. His victims used wire transfers, direct bank deposits, the U.S. Postal Service, and private commercial mail carriers to send money directly to Oakley, as well as to individuals in the United States and elsewhere who served as intermediaries and transmitted the money to Oakley. In addition to sending cash or wire transfers, Oakley’s victims were directed to purchase electronics, jewelry, and clothing, which were sent to mail forwarding services in Florida, and then on to Oakley in Jamaica. Victims never received any “winnings.” Oakley defrauded his victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars during the course of the scheme.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch remains committed to pursuing criminals who defraud elderly and vulnerable U.S. consumers and to prosecuting them to the full extent of the law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Oakley was the first individual whose extradition was requested by the United States under Jamaica’s revised Extradition Act, and we are confident that we will continue our efforts to root out fraud that targets vulnerable consumers, wherever the fraudsters are located.”
“Oakley targeted the most vulnerable people in our society and defrauded them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars," said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. “Today’s guilty plea reflects our office’s commitment to protecting elderly victims and punishing individuals who engage in this type of behavior.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to investigating scammers, domestically and internationally, who use the U.S. mail to enrich themselves by targeting and financially exploiting vulnerable American consumers, including the elderly,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group. “Today’s plea exemplifies the Postal Inspection Service’s efforts to collaborate with foreign and domestic law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice.”
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service 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 Oakley. The U.S. Marshals Service also provided significant assistance.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Consumer Protection Branch, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Haugsby for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch, visit its website at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania visit their website at www.justice.gov/usao-mdpa. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.