Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao Delivers Remarks at the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series
A New Jersey man was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to 72 months in prison and two years of supervised release for committing two separate mail fraud schemes in which he stole more than $50 million from victims throughout the United States by sending letters falsely telling them that they were entitled to receive a large sum of money in exchange for payment of a small fee.
According to court documents, Ryan Young, 41, of Upper Saddle River, operated two separate mail fraud schemes. In the first scheme, which Young operated from 2011 through 2016, Young and his co-conspirators sent fraudulent prize notification letters to victims in the United States and numerous other countries. The letters falsely claimed recipients had won money or valuable prizes, such as luxury cars. Victims were instructed to send small processing fees – typically $20 or $25 – to claim the prizes. Many victims received nothing; others received only a cheap piece of jewelry or a report listing unrelated sweepstakes. In February 2018, Young pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his role in this large-scale international mail fraud scheme that stole approximately $50 million from victims.
While on release and awaiting sentencing on the first mail fraud scheme, Young operated a second mail fraud scheme from March 2019 through May 2022. In the second scheme, Young mailed out letters falsely notifying recipients that they were entitled to receive unclaimed funds worth millions of dollars, a portion of a multimillion-dollar legal settlement, or a prize in exchange for payment of a small fee of $30 to $40. Young did not deliver funds to any of the victims who sent payments in response to these letters. Instead, Young sent booklets containing publicly available information or flyers about online restaurant coupons. According to court documents, Young’s second scheme resulted in $1.6 million in losses to victims.
“The defendant in this case defrauded victims through multiple mail fraud schemes, depriving vulnerable Americans out of more than $50 million,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Justice Department and its federal law enforcement partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who target vulnerable American consumers for financial gain.”
“The defendant’s conduct is especially egregious. After pleading guilty and acknowledging his responsibility, Mr. Young decided to revert back to what he knew best, which was ripping off Americans,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group. “Today’s sentence sends a clear message to others who think they will not be caught – postal inspectors will find you.”
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.
Senior Trial Attorney Ann Entwistle and Assistant Director John W. Burke of the Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanisha Payne for the Eastern District of New York is handling asset forfeiture.
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 Justice Department 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 open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish and other languages are available.
More information about the department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage. For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Justice Department provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office for Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.